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Salina Girl Scout given an astronomical task

Tuesday, October 19, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: jennifer punch
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By GORDON D. FIEDLER JR. Salina Journal

Fourteen-year-old Girl Scout Shelbey Logan has stars in her eyes, which made her a good candidate to participate in a Girl Scout/NASA program designed to form astronomy clubs in the nation's Girl Scout councils.

"I'm interested in astronomy and science," Logan said. "I've always wanted to know more about it."

She was selected to participate in the program based on an essay she wrote on the subject earlier this year.

The reward was a trip in July to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., where she and more than 60 other Girl Scouts heard from Goddard staff members about careers in engineering and science. Another Wichita Scout also went.

"Two of all the speakers were men," Logan said. "The rest were women. They told us what they were studying. Most of them were engineers. Some scientists, also."

Launching astronomy clubs was just one aspect of the Girl Scout/NASA partnership, which seeks to promote the Girl Scout STEM program. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
In an e-mail, Sara Nettleingham, community development manager for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, explained the goals.

"Educating girls on space exploration is just one of many ways we encourage our girls to fill the need for female leaders in the fields of science and technology," Nettleingham said.

At Goddard, Logan and the others received training on how to establish astronomy clubs. They were charged with promoting the club concept in their home councils. So far, Logan has led several sessions with fellow Girl Scouts.

She is hopeful a club can be formed by the end of the year. She's optimistic because her fellow Scouts seem more eager for such a program.

When she was a young Scout -- she's been a Girl Scout for about nine years -- Troop activities were more service oriented and Scouts were not as starry-eyed as perhaps they are now.

In Logan, the Scouts have a rocket-fueled advocate.

"I'm optimistic. I believe with all my heart it will work. If you put that much effort into it, it will work out," she said.

"Personally, I'm not afraid to talk," she said. "I'm not afraid to step out and say we need this and this and this. I want to be able to have other girls who are not sure (about science careers) to at least have a shot, give them a chance to do something," she said. "I would hope they would be interested to learn about things I never got the opportunity to do."

Logan's inspiration was her family. Her father was interested in astronomy and when she was about six years old, he brought home a telescope.

"We tried to set it up but we had no idea what we were doing," she said.

Visits to the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson further ignited her desire.

"I love space. I loved going to the Cosmosphere."

She's flown in small planes, but the flight from Wichita was the first for Logan in a jet.

"The feeling you get up there, it's like nothing else," she said.

Her days at Goddard weren't all work; the girls toured the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where the Amelia Earhart exhibit, specifically her bright-red Lockheed Vega, the one she used in her solo trans-Atlantic Ocean flight, caught Logan's imagination.

"I definitely want to be a pilot," she said.

Other careers are also flying around in her young head, including the law and horticulture.

"All these things I want to be," she said. "I don't know what I want to be: lawyer, florist ...."

The word "unobtainable" doesn't seem to be in Logan's vocabulary.

"I always learned growing up if you want to do something, you do it."


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