The Science Near Me blog is a partnership between Discover magazine and ScienceNearMe.org.
On April 20, 2023, SpaceX’s Starship, the most powerful spaceship ever built, lifted off from the company’s Starbase launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas. It was a thrilling demonstration of engineering prowess, and a preview of future missions that could loft humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
The feat was dimmed by the rocket’s “rapid, unscheduled disassembly” (AKA explosion) shortly after liftoff. But, said SpaceX founder Elon Musk, it was an important step in designing and testing this new class of powerful rocket. Now, the company’s engineers have more information about what to do to make their rocket better.Space launches may be the most exciting application of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) know-how in Texas, but they’re far from the only one. Companies designing and manufacturing semiconductors, wind turbines and more in the state rely on engineers and scientists to create world-changing machinery.
“The STEM workforce is obviously important, and we know that needs to grow to meet the demand,” says Tricia Berry, the cooperative lead for the Texas Girls Collaborative Project (TxGCP), an organization that connects and empowers groups across the state working to bring more girls into STEM.
Growing that workforce begins with exciting people in Texas about STEM, something that the TxGCP is already doing with partners across the state. They’re showing young girls in Texas that science can be a lot of fun when you have the chance to get hands-on with it.
STEM in Texas
Growing the STEM workforce in Texas, and across the country, starts with reaching people who might not be considering a STEM career, Berry says, and helping those who are already on their way to a STEM career to thrive. Women and girls are still underrepresented nationally in STEM careers — grow their numbers, and we grow the STEM workforce.
TxGCP partners with organizations in Texas who are already working to educate and inspire girls using STEM, amplifying their efforts and helping bring their opportunities to a wider audience. They also partner with Science Near Me, a one-stop-shop for finding science opportunities in your area, to bring even more STEM opportunities to people in Texas.
“It’s really about providing resources, providing connections, connecting the community with opportunities,” Berry says.
Science Opportunities in Texas
TxGCP partners with organizations all over Texas to showcase the best of the STEM in the state. That includes organizations like GirlStart, named Austin’s top youth STEM program by the Austin Chronicle in 2021. Summer STEM opportunities for girls through the program include weeklong camps exploring what it takes to go to space or explore the depths of the Mariana Trench, while their Girlstart After School programs offer free STEM enrichment at participating schools.
To the northeast of Austin, the Girl Scouts recently opened a STEM Center of Excellence in Dallas. The 92-acre campus includes opportunities to explore robotics, computer coding, chemistry and more through field trips, workshops, day camps and other programs. The Center also hosts robotics clubs that let girls design, build and drive custom-made robots.
“There’s a lot of great STEM work being done through the Girl Scouts across the state,” Berry says.
You can also find STEM opportunities across Texas by using the new Science Near Me Exchange on the TxGCP website. The Exchange is powered by the Science Near Me database of thousands of opportunities, and allows anyone to search for science-based activities in their area. Try out the Exchange today, and search by area, date, keyword and more to find an array of fun, family-friendly activities near you.
“It’s hard for families, it’s hard for educators, it’s hard for program providers to find information or share information without it getting lost,” Berry says. Science Near Me “provides that one place that we can point the organizations to to market their information, which gives us the one place to tell families and educators to go look.”
Here’s just a taste of what you might find on the Texas Science Near Me Exchange:
Join the Texas Stream Team to study and protect the 191,000 miles of waterways in Texas. Monitor waterway conditions and water quality at over 400 sites to help protect this natural resource in Texas.
Monitor the spread of bat diversity across Texas. Watch and record where the more than 30 species of bat in Texas live, sending your observations to scientists.
What does an eclipse sound like? The 2024 total solar eclipse will be moving right across Texas. Lots of interesting things happen in the natural world during an eclipse, like crickets suddenly beginning to chirp. Scientists want you to help them track what it sounds like! Learn how you can get ready to make observations.
You can always find more ways to engage with STEM on Science Near Me, wherever you live. Try out the Opportunity Finder on the website today, and see what you find!
If your organization offers events, projects or programs that invite the public to engage in STEM, add it to Science Near Me!