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Jan. 28, 1999

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

650/604-5026 or 604-9000



From the first woman Space Shuttle commander, Eileen Collins, to actress Kate Mulgrew, the first female starship captain on prime-time TV, at least 14 female pioneers in their fields will participate in NASA Internet "chats" and other activities for students. The Internet events will continue for months, through March, Women's History Month, and beyond with the list of "female firsts" growing.

The Internet events will culminate in a two-hour Internet broadcast live from Kennedy Space Center, FL, at the time of Collins' upcoming STS-93 Space Shuttle launch, yet to be scheduled. Student "ambassadors" will present the STS-93 webcast for other young people worldwide.

Called Female Frontiers, the project's website is at:

During an Internet `chat,' youngsters use computers to converse live with interesting professionals by typing questions and reading responses and dialogue via the World Wide Web.

"By focusing on Commander Collins' remarkable accomplishments, we are giving young girls everywhere the message that they, too, can break traditional barriers in their career choices," said Tish Krieg, who organized the on-line events from NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

The next chat is Jan. 28 beginning at 11:00 a.m. PST with Libby Riddles, the first female to win the Alaskan Iditerod dog sled race. "Although you might not think so at first, math and science are important in my career," she said. "With the dogs, one of the most scientific aspects is the nutrition, which requires math to figure out proportions and calories per kilogram of different foods, etc."

Representing diverse careers, female mentors also include the first American woman to walk in space, Kathryn Sullivan and the first female captain of America's Cup, Dawn Riley.

Some of the other women featured include Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut; Dee O'Hara, the first nurse to NASA astronauts; Jean Bartik, first female computer programmer; Shirley Temple Black, the first female chief protocol; and California's 10th Congressional District U.S. Rep., Ellen Tauscher, the first female to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

Participation is easy. "If you have a personal computer with Internet access, you can log onto the NASA site to see a schedule, background information about the featured woman, chat instructions and pre-registration materials. Then, go to the chat room, and follow directions," said Linda Conrad who is also organizing Female Frontiers.

First-come, first-served pre-registration via the Internet is required in order for students contribute to the chats. Other people can observe the conversations without registering. Educators can also find instructional materials on the site. Materials are cross-curricular covering subjects such as social studies, science, language arts and mathematics. Female Frontiers chats are sponsored by NASA Quest based at Ames.

"The Female Frontiers project is just one of many Internet projects that we conduct to benefit students," said Karen Traicoff, manager of NASA Quest. "Quest hosts interactive Internet activities year round that connect students with interesting people and their work. Research has shown that students learn better by real-life experiences," she said. The Quest URL is:

Chat schedule

Jan. 28 – 11:00 a.m. PST, Libby Riddles, first female to win Iditerod dog sled race.

Feb. 2 – 11:30 a.m. PST, Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson, first (African American) female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering form Howard University. She is also an aerospace engineer, NASA Goddard Space

Feb. 9 – 11:00 a.m. PST, Dian Hardison, one of the first three females admitted to the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal class.

Feb. 23 – 9 a.m. PST, Dawn Riley, first female captain of America's Cup Team.

Feb. 24 – 10 a.m. PST, Ruth Simmons, first female to head a major university as president of Smith College, Northampton, MA.

March 2 - time to be determined – Kate Mulgrew, first female starship captain in the history of prime time TV.

Please check Quest website for complete schedule and late additions:

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