[image-62]How do you spend your weekend? For some people it is spent with chores around the yard or house, but for WSTF employees, a weekend day was spent helping young girls plan for future careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Bonnie Eisenberg, coordinator of the Girls Can! Career Conference, said to the presenters: "We are looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, March 12 at Lynn Middle School. For your workshop, we ask that you prepare a short introduction to your career, how you came to be in that line of work, what you like about the work you do, the educational requirements, and what other kinds of jobs are available in your field. The bulk of the workshop should be a "hands-on" activity of some kind for the girls' participation, directly related to some aspect of the work you do. I know you will have a great time."
NASA White Sands Test Facility employees Moira Romansky and Sonja Wood (Jacobs Technology Inc.) presented workshops to participants who signed up for their "Writing for the World of Work" workshop. Romansky and Wood helped the career conference participants learn more about working as a team by setting up a science demonstration where ordinary materials were exposed to the harshness of liquid nitrogen (LN2), which simulates space atmospheres. After the materials were immersed in LN2, they asked the participants to brainstorm a hypothesis of what would happen to the materials after exposure to the liquid nitrogen. [image-78]
Dipping ordinary earthly materials such as rubber balls, balloons, and golf balls into liquid nitrogen simulates the way these materials would react in the extreme temperatures of space. At atmospheric pressure, liquid nitrogen boils at 77K (-196C; -321°F). It is a cryogenic fluid which can cause rapid freezing. Flexible rubber balls exposed to LN2 can shatter, while frozen bananas can be used to hammer nails into wood. The girls were then asked to write a report on the results.
WSTF employees Jennifer Allred and Bob Kowalski (NASA) presented the workshop "Wonderful World of Polymers." Allred and Kowalski showed the girls slides on the chemical makeup of polymers and their effect on ordinary daily life. Afterwards, the participants made their own polymers (also known as silly putty and slime) and then Allred demoed the lightest and lowest-density solid known to exist: aerogel. Allred then performed a quick test to show the insulative properties of aerogel.
New materials, such as aerogel, are often researched for their usefulness in space travel.