Arlington, Va., July 23, 2012—The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) expresses its sorrow over the passing of Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly into space. Ride died earlier today after battling pancreatic cancer.
“Sally Ride was the first woman in space but equally as important, she was a true guiding light in science education,” said Gerry Wheeler, NSTA Interim executive director. “Sally’s work with NASA and her passionate efforts with Sally Ride Science made science fun and engaging for young students. Sally had a special place in her heart for girls and science and as a mentor she worked tirelessly to inspire thousands of young girls to pursue careers in the STEM fields.”
Ride was the first American woman (and the youngest person at the time) to fly to space in 1983 aboard the shuttle Challenger (she flew a second mission in 1984). Following the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger accident, she was a member of the Presidential Commission that investigated the accident (in 2003 she also served on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board to investigate the cause of the space shuttle Columbia disaster.) She was then assigned to NASA, where she wrote “Leadership and America’s Future in Space,” and was the first Director of NASA’s Office of Exploration. In 1989 Ride joined the faculty at UCSD as a Professor of Physics and Director of the University of California’s Space Institute.
Ride founded Sally Ride Science in 2001 to create entertaining science programs and classroom materials for upper elementary and middle school students designed to spark their interest in science. Sally Ride Science also provides classroom materials and teacher training. She is the author of six science books for children. Her many honors and accolades include the 2012 National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award; she is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Astronaut Hall of Fame, California Aviation Hall of Fame, National Aviation Hall of Fame and recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service.
The Arlington, VA–based National Science Teachers Association is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA’s current membership includes approximately 58,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.
Jodi Peterson, NSTA