Da Vinci Connect TK-8 students recently had the opportunity to hear from two extraordinary female NASA engineers making an impact in space. The virtual events, hosted in collaboration with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and STEMconnector, were designed to inform students of future STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers by connecting them to STEM professionals, real-world challenges, and project-based learning.

During the first of these two incredible events, known as NASA’s Day of Design: Shooting Stars, DV Connect students met with Tessa Rundle, a space suit life support engineer at NASA. Ms. Rundle spent just under an hour with the students sharing her background, how she came to work for NASA, and explaining what exactly a space suit life support engineer does, and how her work impacts the safety of NASA’s astronauts.

The second event connected DV Connect students with Dr. Vemitra White, a NASA STEM Education Specialist. Dr. White is also an Assistant Professor for the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research at Texas State University. Dr. White spent an hour discussing her background and engaging students in an exciting star finder activity. She helped students connect how the stars have been an important vehicle for not only exploration, but also social justice. Dr. White shared with students how Harriet Tubman used her own understanding of the stars to help 70 people escape slavery.

Both Dr. White and Tessa Rundle made a significant impact on the DV Connect students during these events. Not only were these events engaging and exciting, these two incredible women also instilled in the students an understanding that they too are capable of working for NASA or doing exciting work in the STEM field. It is safe to say that the STEM field will be forever changed because of the generous gift of time STEMconnector and these two scientists gave to young students who see and believe in endless possibilities.

We wish to extend a huge thanks to Dr. Jo Webber, Da Vinci Trustee and the CEO of STEMconnector, a research company whose mission is to develop a diverse STEM-ready workforce, for organizing these fantastic events.