Last week I was lucky enough to join my 4th grade son’s class on a field trip to the California State Capital. We not only toured the State Capital building (which was fun in itself) but we also took a tour of the California Museum — home of the California Hall of Fame. The California Museum is, in itself, an inspiring trip that tells the story of California’s rich history and of its unique contributions to the world. According to the website the California Museum is meant to: “Inspire men, women and children to pursue the California dream and make a mark on history.”
As much as we enjoyed all the museum had to offer it was walking into the huge exhibit of “California’s Remarkable Women” that I was truly in awe. Especially with my small group of 4th grade boys in tow.
Slowly I lead them through the exhibit, making sure to point out the California Suffrage movement. I pointed out the many different women from fields that boys tend to associate with men, not women, (STEM, politics, different sports, business, the arts, etc). We walked through the Ray Eames exhibit. Legendary designer Ray Eames broke barriers during an era of limited opportunities for women in the arts. She is known for her innovations in modern architecture, furniture, films, toys, photography, textiles, and more.
Then we came across Sally Ride.
Maybe because she was one of my personal SheHeroes when I was a small girl, or because her passing still feels so very recent. Or maybe because I knew that this week we would be celebrating Sally Ride Day on the 26th. But we all stopped and looked at her suit. A suit that was in front of us, and had once been worn by her. In space.
The usually loud boys were silent for a moment. We read and talked about this amazing woman.
We talked about how she was born and raised in Los Angeles, right here in California. We talked about her not only being the first American woman to fly in outer space but how she was also part of NASA’s first astronaut class to accept women. She was also a nationally ranked tennis player, an accomplished astronaut, physicist, professor and author.
During her life, Sally Ride cumulatively spent more then 343 hours in space.
The boys I was accompanying, being 4th graders, were distracted by another exhibit after that short moment. But I hung behind a moment as they rushed off and snapped a picture. I said a quiet thank you to Sally Ride, for simply being her.
Later, as we walked back by the exhibit I noticed my son turn around a take another look at Sally Ride’s suit before we walked away.
I don’t know how exactly my son and the other boys in my group will remember that field trip as they get older. But for me I’ll remember it as the best way I could have celebrated Sally Ride Day. By attempting to open the eyes of a few boys who will someday be men working and living alongside amazing SheHeroes like Sally Ride.
Tell us about a SheHero or field trip that inspired you as a child or adult.