On May 26th, Sally Ride, the first American woman and youngest person to date to enter space, would have been 66 years old. In 1983, she boarded the Challenger space shuttle and operated a robotic arm to get a space satellite--another first. Her life symbolizes courage, endurance, and dedication to achieving what seemed to be the impossible. She authored several children's books, created programs to inspire girls to enter STEM-based careers, and taught as a professor, making a significant impact in the lives she touched. Read on to find out the ways you can honor Sally Ride's contribution to the advancement of space and women's history in your classrooms.
Study other women who were firsts, such as Mae Jemison (first Black American female astronaut), Victoria Woodhull (first woman to run for president in the US), and the Honorable Judge Sonia Sotomayor (first Hispanic American woman to be appointed in the Supreme Court), How are their stories similar? What can you learn from their lives?
Learn more about space life. What is it like living in space? What do they eat? What would happen if an astronaut's space suit was damaged? Science experiments based on space science can give a glimpse into what astronauts have to go through before, during, and after space exploration. Grab a clean 20 oz. plastic bottle with a standard opening, some marshmallows, and a soda fizz pumper to see how air pressure affects the body. Make an alka seltzer rocket to see how flight works. Any lesson teaching laws affecting space or investigations needed to understand space will do if proper planning was completed.
Imagine what you'd be the first to do, and then write a story about it. Would you be the first person to walk on Mars, find a cure for cancer, or graduate from college in your family? The possibilities are limitless. Describe how you'd do it and what impact it would have on the lives of others. Illustrate yourself doing so and then save it (you could make a copy of the story and store it in a time capsule to be reopened later). Years later you can look back and see whether you achieved the first or remember your early passions.
I hope these ideas can help your students learn more about Sally Ride's life and the significance of her time at NASA. Share below how these ideas helped you recognize this great hero.