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Reach For The Stars STEM Festival



The Reach For The Stars STEM Festival was held April 17, 2021, on the campus of Rice University in Houston, TX. This year, instead of choosing individual workshops, each girl chose an "interest track":

  • A: SPACE and ASTRONOMY
  • B: MEDICINE (including space medicine)
  • C: PHYSICS, ROBOTICS, CHEMISTRY
  • D: EARTH SCIENCE and ENVIRONMENT

Sign up on the mailing list to get more information or to keep on the mailing list for next year. As always, thanks to our sponsors, we can provide scholarships to deserving girls. If you would like to be a presenter, volunteer, or exhibitor, send an email to starfest@rice.edu

Thanks to our 2021 Sponsors:



History of our Festivals

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.

2019 Festival

We had a fantastic time at our 2019 festival! We had a 502 girls, 130 chaperones, and over 200 exhibitors, presenters, and volunteers

Download a summary of the 2019 Festival

Here were the 2019 workshop choices:

  1. "Texas in the Dark: Eclipses 2023/2024" (Astronomy)
  2. "Telling the Tales of Whales" (Biology)
  3. "Chemistry to Dye For" (Chemistry)
  4. "Fun With Chemistry" (Chemistry)
  5. "Fire and Ice: Volcanoes and Glaciers" (Earth Science)
  6. "Spectroscopy of Light" (Astronomy)
  7. "Mars Roving" (Engineering Design)
  8. "Building Communities" (Civil Engineering)
  9. "Magnetic Attraction and Electric Shocks" (Physics)
  10. "Let's Walk on Mars" (Planetary Science)
  11. "Fun with Math Logic" (Mathematics)
  12. "Using a cantaloupe as a model for epidural placement" (Baylor College of Medicine)
  13. "Magnetic Fluids" (Physics/Nanotechnology)
  14. "Stardust: Capturing our cosmic friends & science you can do at home!" (Planetary Science)
  15. "The Physics of Butterflies' (Biophysics)
  16. "Wind and Solar Energy" (Physics/Energy)
  17. "Go Speed Racer" (Physics)
  18. "Apollo and Beyond" (Gravity planetarium show)
  19. "Exploring the Solar system" (Planetary Science)
  20. "Mars Rover 2020 Depot Caching With Drones and VEX Iqs" (Space Center Houston)
  21. "Spacesuits: Past, Present, and Future" (Human Exploration)
  22. "How do astronauts speak STEM? World languages on the ISS" (Human Exploration)
  23. "Orion Splashdown!" (Solar System Exploration)
  24. "Engineering Lab Tour" (Engineering)


Previous Sally Ride Festivals at Rice University

Astronaut Peggy Whitson

2018 - 2019

In 2019 the keynote speaker was Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj who related her experiences as founder of “Science in the Wild” and Commander of the HERA II NASA Mars simulated mission.

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.