On Saturday in Busch Garden's Globe Theater, NASA Langley’s Center Director Lesa Roe took to the stage and wished a happy 100th birthday to the Girl Scouts of America. As she looked out into a sea of local Girl Scouts who attended Girl Scout Engineering Day, she gave them another reason to celebrate – opportunity.
"Almost every woman astronaut that has been flying today has been a Girl Scout, so that's pretty incredible," Roe said. "And actually the first woman, the first American woman, that walked in space is actually Kathy Sullivan, and Kathy walked in space and was a Girl Scout as well. So, lots of history and a lot of Girl Scout opportunities right there in NASA."
Jaws dropped as images of spacewalks took over the big screen. Roe continued to explain real possibilities through engineering.
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NASA Langley's Center Director Lesa Roe with Girl Scouts before giving her keynote speech at the Globe Theater at Busch Gardens for Girl Scout Engineering Day. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith
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Amanda Cutright, an engineer from NASA Langley, shows Hanna Davis from Girl Scout troop 1142 the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator at one of the many booths aimed to inspire future engineers. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith
Credit: NASA/Sean Smith
"What is an engineer?" she asked. Then, she shared a quote, which served as the answer: "Scientists discover the world that exists, engineers create the world that never was."
The message became more clear as Roe explained that engineers are associated with everything from hair dryers, to computers, to the rides and roller coasters that surrounded them in the park. She described engineering as a "stealth, secret profession that underpins all kinds of things that go in our world."
As a former Brownie Scout, Roe revealed that she learned a sense of teamwork from her organization at a young age. That was an important lesson that was still being implemented in her work at NASA by working with others to solve challenges.
She talked about science, aeronautics and space exploration, and discussed Langley's current projects and missions. Eyes widened as the screen showed animations of the Mars Science Laboratory landing on Mars, and test capsules making a splash into Langley’s hydro basin, which surely brought nearby rollercoasters and water rides to mind.
"Engineers create things that never were," Roe reemphasized. "The key ingredient is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)."
The Girl Scouts headed to the Festhaus, where dozens of Langley volunteers were set up to teach them more about the projects and missions Roe introduced. Roe urged them to continue celebrating NASA's 95th anniversary open house in September at Langley Research Center – one of the many places they could work to change the world through engineering.
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