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Reach For The Stars STEM Festival - SAVE the DATE - Oct 12, 2019 (tentative)!

Since middle school is the age where girls typically lose interest in science, Sally Ride asked us to work with her to create festivals to excite and inspire them. The result was that in 2006, Rice University began hosting the annual Sally Ride Science Festival. Sally Ride herself was the first speaker and often hailed the Rice event as the largest and best attended of her festivals. Each annual Festival includes a street fair, an inspiring talk by a woman astronaut, and roughly thirty women-led science and engineering workshops (each student attends two).

Starting in 2016, the Festival was renamed the "Reach for the Stars! STEM Festival", and is sponsored by the Ride Family Foundation and Rice Space Institute.

The next Festival will be held in fall 2019 (tentatively October 12, 2019).
Sign up on the mailing list for the next festival.

This was the 2018 SCHEDULE: (the 2019 schedule is TBD)

Because of rain forecast, the event was moved to the Brockman Hall area. The street festival was under the various building overhangs and the plenary talk by Dr. Whitson was in Brockman 101.

  • 11 am - 2 pm: Street Festival, Box Lunch (Brockman Hall area)
  • 12 pm - 1 pm: Peggy Whitson speech and Q&A (Brockman 101) (first group)
  • 1:15 pm - 2:15 pm: Peggy Whitson speech and Q&A (Brockman 101) (second group)
  • 2:15 - 4:15 pm: Women-run STEM workshops (2)
  • 4:30 End

  • MAJOR SPONSOR: Rice University
  • SPONSOR: BAYLOR "TRISH" Translational Research Institute for Space Health
  • SPONSOR: Discovery Dome
  • SPONSOR: Texas Space Grant
  • ORGANIZER: Department of Physics & Astronomy and Rice Space Institute, Rice U
  • ORGANIZER: Ride Family Foundation
  • ORGANIZER: "Gathering of Eagles" organization

  • To reach the organizers with questions, to volunteer, or to sponsor, send email to starfest@rice.edu

    History of Sally Ride Festivals at Rice University

    Astronaut Peggy Whitson

    2017 - 2018

    The keynote speaker for 2018 was Peggy Whitson.
    We are delighted that Peggy Whitson returned for her third time to thrill the Ride Festival participants!
    In 2007 she greeted the girls from space when Eileen Collins was the keynote speaker (see the link to the video below), and in 2008 she spoke in person. Now ten years later and the record-holder for longest single flight of a Woman in Space (289 days), and most total days of any American in space (667!), she returned to her Alma Mater to inspire again!

    2016 - 2017

    In 2016-2017 Rice hosted the "Conference for Women Undergraduates in Physics" instead of a Ride Festival

    2015 - 2016

    The keynote speaker was again Wendy Lawrence.

    2014 - 2015

    In 2014 Catherine Coleman returned as keynote speaker. In addition, there were 35 hands-on workshops for the students, led by women scientists, engineers, and doctors.

    2013 - 2014

    The keynote speaker was Barbara Morgan.

    2012 - 2013

    2012 was special because it was just after Sally Ride passed away in July, so the 2012 Festival was dedicated to her memory, and Wendy Lawrence returned as keynote speaker.

    2011 - 2012

    The keynote speaker was Catherine Coleman.

    2010 - 2011

    The keynote speaker was Wendy Lawrence.

    2009 - 2010

    The keynote speaker was Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space.

    2008 - 2009

    The keynote speaker was Peggy Whitson.

    2007 - 2008

    Peggy Whitson aboard the ISS

    The keynote speaker was Eileen Collins. During her talk, we were pleased to have Peggy Whitson greet the attendees from space (she was the first woman Commander of the ISS, and she later greeted Eileen in space when the shuttle visited the ISS.

    2006 - 2007

    The inaugural Sally Ride Festival was created when Sally reached out to us about hosting an event for women. Sally Ride herself was the first keynote speaker.