Pratt Hosts Sally Ride Science Festival

The Slime Table was a popular exhibit during the street fair.

Duke's Society of Women Engineers offered students a chance to try several different experiments.
CEE Chair Roni Avissar talks with several girls describing the environmental science instrumentation on the helicopter.

The Pratt School of Engineering hosted the Sally Ride Science Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15. More than 480 middle-school girls from across the state came to enjoy an afternoon dedicated to hands-on exhibits and workshops.

The Festival kicked off with a "street fair" of exhibits, including Pratt's Formula SAE race car and environmental engineering helicopter, a keynote talk by astronaut Kathryn Thornton, and workshops with local women veterinarians, scientists and educational specialists. Workshops included topics such as Bat Mania, Bottle Rocket Madness, Chaos in the Heart and Enzyme Magic.

"I’m very proud that Pratt sponsored this event," said Dean Kristina Johnson. "This kind of outreach is what a world class engineering school should do."

The Sally Ride Science Festivals are designed to expose young girls to the exciting world of science and engineering and to women role models who work in such fields.

"Sometimes students just need to be told they can succeed, a little encouragement," said Johnson, who noted during the keynote presentation that she had met astronaut Sally Ride early in her academic career. "We need more women and minorities to choose technical careers, and this is one way to help make that happen."

There were also workshops for parents, focused on helping them prepare their young students for college. Sally Ride Science employee Debbie Biggs gave a presentation on gender equity titled "We've Come A Long Way...Or Have We?" Pratt's Marianne Risley, Associate Dean for New Initiatives, gave a presentation titled "Preparing Your Daughter for College."

"This kind of festival wouldn't be possible without the incredibly generous support of university faculty, industry outreach programs and educational non-profits," said Deborah Hill, Pratt's director of communications. "These people donated their time, enthusiasm and expertise to help young girls envision futures that might include technical careers. You can't put a pricetag on this kind of investment."

Pratt thanks the following exhibitors and workshop presenters: N.C. Museum of Life and Science, Lulu Enterprises, IBM Corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, Saint Mary's School/Solar System Ambassador, Sigma Xi/Toy Challenge, DESTINY Traveling Science Learning Program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke InnoWorks, Society of Women Engineers, Raleigh Astronomy Club, States United for Biomedical Research/North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research, Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., Duke University - Engineering World Health Summer Institute, Novozymes, Pratt's Formula SAE Race Car Team, Duke University Talent Identification Program, Duke University School of Nursing, American Red Cross, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Park Veterinary Hospital, Novozymes North America, Inc., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Shodor Education Foundation in Durham.