A BGU educational project entitled "She Space", which encourages girls to be involved in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) studies has received an international excellence award. The International Astronautical Federation bestowed its annual Excellence in 3G Diversity Award at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) which took place in Dubai at the end of October. Dr. Shimrit Maman, Director of BGU's Earth and Planetary Image Facility, and founder of the program at BGU, and Dr. Lonia Friedlander, the academic director of the program, accepted the award on behalf of the program.
The Excellence in 3G Diversity Award is intended to recognize IAF member organizations and/or individual teams/projects within IAF member organizations worldwide for outstanding contributions to the fostering of “3G" (Geography, Generation, Gender) Diversity within the space sector. The Award is intended as an annual award but is given only when nominations of exceptional merit are received.
She Space is a first-of-its-kind educational space science project for the development of satellite imaging research applications and was built to inspire young girls to study science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) subjects. The basic premise of the program is that exposure to advanced scientific disciplines, especially in an active research context, encourages young women to continue studying science throughout their educational careers. She Space uses exposure to remote sensing to push high school-age girls outside of their comfort zones and help them learn about STEM subjects without preconceptions or existing stereotypes.
"In our pursuit of excellence here at BGU, we want to nurture the future generation of scientists, especially women, during their formative high school years. Congratulations to Dr. Maman and Dr. Friedlander and the entire international She Space and EPIF team on this worthy international recognition of their success and hard work," says BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz.
The project was created through a unique collaboration between the University and Beit Yatziv, and the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology. The project began in 2018 and takes place in eight different countries. Each group of girls deals with a different research topic connected to the relevant environmental issue in the country they live in. Each group uses a local satellite to carry out their research and an international research group is established which compares local and global results and integrates the personal project results into the understanding of the climate processes affecting us all. The girls learn how to use advanced research tools, computer programs, and lab techniques.
"It is our collective responsibility, regardless of age, gender, or geographical position, to act in collaboration whilst using all the available space technologies to cope with climate change. This unique program allows girls to become exposed to the frontline of space research and technology and to hold cross-border social and research activities. I am proud to be part of the project team and proud of the award we received," Dr. Maman says.
“By mentoring female students from underrepresented communities in and around Beer-Sheva who are interested in STEAM subjects, we aim to expand these students' horizons and help them achieve success," says Dr. Friedlander. “I'm gratified that our work at She Space is being recognized through IAF's prestigious award."
Above left to right: Dr. Lonia Friedlander, Dr. Shimrit Maman, and IAF President Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund at the award ceremony in Dubai. Photo Credit: Ben Nathaniel