Astronaut Abby Encourages STEM Dreams for Girls & Minorities
STEM Astronaut Abby’s life mission is to go to space. Since the age of 4, when she would stand outside in the freezing Minnesota winters staring up at the night sky, she has done everything in her power to make that dream come true.
Abby, who is 20 and currently attending Wellesley College, is on a mission to help young women and minorities realize their dreams of working in STEM through her YouTube channel and outreach.
Tell us a bit more about your nonprofit, The Mars Generation.
The idea for The Mars Generation was born when I was 15. I had been asked by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano to be his Earth Liaison during his 6-month stay on the International Space Station, to share his experiences living and working in space with people here, especially young people and women. Upon seeing the incredible success this work had, I decided I wanted to continue it after Luca’s return to Earth. In 2015 I launched The Mars Generation, and in a little over 2 years, we have amassed a social media following of over 1 million people, sent 36 students in poverty to Space Camp on full paid scholarships, and have over 1,500 Student Space Ambassadors globally.
Our nation’s workforce is in desperate need of STEM talent. What advice would you give our next generation of innovators?
One of the biggest problems we have with recruiting young women and minorities into STEM fields is that they often don’t feel supported — and even more than that, they often feel unwelcome in STEM careers. Be loud and be proud about your dreams. The first step in making a goal come true is believing in yourself — no one else can do that for you. Talk about your dreams and goals. Once you start being vocal about what it is you plan to do in the future, other people can help you.
What advice would you give parents and educators who strive to improve STEM learning opportunities?
Be creative! Creativity is key in creating innovative STEM education opportunities. Many students learn through different means, and by including multiple techniques in a lesson or activity you can reach more students. Also look for organizations around you who are already doing what you want to do. Is there a local CAP chapter that could come in and talk about flying or lead an activity about flying?