App Gets Girls Excited About Space and STEM

Space exploration has traditionally fallen in the realm of daydreaming boys, but Jenna Bryson has set out to change that. Bryson’s new app, which she details in Space Industry News, aims to get girls excited about the science behind space exploration.

Bryson explains that Grace from Outer Space seeks not only to communicate the wonder of astronomy like the classic shows such as Star Trek, but also to lay down academic groundwork to prepare little girls to take advanced science classes when they’re older.

Bryson said that she herself loved geeking out in her younger days with science kits and a rock tumbler. However, even though her level of interest was high, she says she wasn’t prepared for the challenges of math and science courses in high school. In the end, the enthusiasm for the subject just wasn’t enough. She fell behind in math class and became a “creative type.”

Although there’s nothing wrong with pursuing your passions wherever they lie, be they in physics or creative writing, Bryson believes that if she’d been better prepared in her earlier years, she might not have given up so easily — and that’s where Grace from Outer Space comes in.

I think, however, if I had had a good understanding of space and basic scientific concepts as a young child, this knowledge would’ve given me the confidence to continue pursuing S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in my higher education.

All of this is to say why I created ‘Grace from Outer Space’: a fictional, but scientifically factual, rhyming picture book for kids (currently in campaign-mode on Kickstarter, until July 15th, 2013, to raise funds to turn this story into a super-cool, interactive eBook app for the iPad). The main character is a colorful, curious, intergalactic girl named ‘Grace’. She lives on a space ship with her parents (her mother is a scientist, her father is a pilot) and her dog, Moonfruit. In reading the book, children will learn about comets, the rings of Saturn, and will even be exposed to more complex theories such as dark energy.

The readers will follow Grace as she begins school and learns all about the universe alongside with creatures from different worlds. Bryson is planning a number of followups, each an opportunity for the reader to learn something new about space exploration as they follow Grace on her adventures.

As Bryson points out, the leaders of space explorations of tomorrow are sitting in the classrooms today, and Grace from Outer Space seeks to inspire them to turn their eyes towards the stars and dream.

Who are the creators of the space industry of the near future? It’s the children of today, of course, and I think it’s children who are (will be) fans of ‘Grace from Outer Space’. Stories and ideas are powerful; they can help affect positive change in and inspire the world of tomorrow. I probably won’t be around to experience the space-faring civilization of the future, but I can help to inspire the manifestation of this way-of-life.  Just as “Star Trek” got me wondering about the universe, if this story, this character can inspire at least one child, one girl, to look up at the stars and say, “I want to go there!” then I’ve done my part.

Those who wish to support Bryson’s vision of seeing more women enter STEM fields can support Grace and her adventures on Kickstarter.

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