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Jan. 20, 1999

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000


Release: 99-1AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover the TechGYRLS events at NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 23. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from Highway 101, drive east to the main gate at Moffett Federal Airfield and report to the guard to obtain a map and directions to the events in Bldg. 3, the Ames Aerospace Encounter in Bldg. N226 and elsewhere. Media representative must have valid press pass credentials with picture ID in order to enter Ames.


About 200 girls, aged 9 to 13, from the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, will participate in the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) "TechGYRLS Day" at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 9 a.m to 3:30 p.m.

The girls and 40 mentors will attend workshops, listen to speeches and get hands-on experience with computers and various NASA projects. One of the goals of the event is to encourage the young women to learn more about technical subjects. The activities are designed to help girls to think critically as well as to solve problems.

"Young girls, especially under-represented minorities, have begun to take more courses in science and mathematics, but many girls are not yet pursuing technical courses," said Tina Herrera, an Ames engineer who suggested to the YWCA that Ames would be an excellent locale for the 1999 TechGYRLS event. "The knowledge and experience gained by the young women can greatly benefit them now and in the future," she said.

"This is the second annual event that the YWCA has organized for GYRLS Day," she said. "The YWCA has TechGYRLS programs at seven locations across the nation: Dallas, TX; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Greenwich, CT and Plainfield/North Plainfield, NJ."

The regional programs are ongoing throughout the school year. "Girls meet after school to increase their exposure to the technical world, and they have mentors who help during their explorations," Herrera said. "We hope that other regional programs will begin in the San Francisco Bay Area following TechGYRLS Day at Ames."

"The YWCA says that no society can afford to ignore half of its resources. By providing girls with opportunities, encouraging the girls' aspirations and achievements, we will help to raise a generation of women with increased economic security, a better quality of life and wide ranging career options," Herrera added.

"The YWCA has been working for several years to broaden girls' interests and knowledge of the world around them, to help them to develop confidence to use technology tools in whatever profession they pursue. We hope that girls discover links between fun technology projects and academic subjects, such as science and mathematics," Herrera said.

In addition to being a NASA engineer, Herrera is Vice President of the National Board of Directors of the YWCA of the United States. "I have worked with the YWCA as a volunteer since I was in college," she said. "This current effort is an exciting way for me to combine my outside interests in the advancement of young women with my job as a NASA engineer."

At NASA, Herrera manages development of the Modular Cultivation System that will be used on the International Space Station to experiment with the growth of plants in microgravity.

Schedule, Saturday, Jan. 23, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (All times are PST.)

9:00 to 9:20 a.m. – Girls and their mentors register at Bldg. 3.

9:20 to 9:30 a.m. – Welcome comments by Prema Mathai-Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the YWCA of the U.S.A and by Nancy Bingham, Ames Assistant Director for Planning.

9:45 to 11:00 a.m. – Three groups of girls will attend one of three events: Educational activities at the Ames Aerospace Encounter, Bldg. N226; or briefings at Ames technical facilities, including wind tunnels and centrifuges. Other participants will remain in Bldg. 3 to attend computer workshops. These will include a web scavenger hunt, lego robotics and the "microworlds" activity that teaches girls to animate multimedia computer projects.

11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. – The three groups of girls will rotate to the next activity.

12:15 to 1 p.m. – Lunch in Ballroom of Bldg. 3 with a keynote address by Wendy Holforty, a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol, as well as a space scholar in the Education Associates Program at Ames who works in the Civil Tiltrotor Aircraft Program. She will speak about career development and goals. Awards will also be presented.

1:00 to 2:15 p.m. – Briefings will take place in Hangar 1 and in the Vertical Motion Simulator, the largest simulator of its kind in the world. Some girls will participate in the computer workshops in Bldg. 3. Hands-on workshops with Ames researchers will also take place in Bldg. 3.

2:15 to 3:30 p.m. - Girls rotate to the third and final event.




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