Q&A with Featured Contributor Dajae Moe Williams of NASA

For the rest of this week we’ll be posting our last few Q&As with Featured Contributors, and today I bring you Dajae Moe Williams, a Quality Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Dajae will be speaking alongside Featured Contributor Trudy Kortes in a panel about women pursuing STEM careers on Sunday at 10 a.m., so be sure to check it out in the Guidebook app! And don’t forget your passes!

But for now, let’s get to know Dajae!

Tell us a little about your story. Where are you from? Where are you based out of now?

St. Louis, Missouri. I now live in Los Angeles, California.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy song writing, music production, basketball, and entrepreneurship.

Who did you look up to growing up? How about now?

When I was younger, I looked up Will Smith, Queen Latifa, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Now I look up to Nipsey Hussle and Steve Jobs.

Teal Christensen
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Panel Highlight: Cultivating a Passion for STEM at #GGC17

We’re here! Well, not quite, but with just a few days left until #GGC17, I’m in full-on excited freakout mode, and I hope you are too. We’ve got our schedules, our apps, and we’re ready to have an amazing Con weekend.

If only we could be this calm and collected going into the Con

Over the past few weeks we’ve been giving you a preview of the amazing panels we have coming up, divided into all the themes we geeks are most passionate about. We’ve covered Social Justice, Diversity and Inclusivity, GGC After Dark, Pop Culture, Fandom, and Gaming. But as if all of that wasn’t enough to get you completely psyched for this weekend, let me introduce you to a group of panels that I am personally counting down the hours for: the STEM panels!

The original computers

Did you know that the first computers weren’t wires or blinking lights, but women? From the first computer program to sending men to the moon, women were technological leaders. So why is it so hard to find safe work environments and equal salaries for women in technology? Moderated by Asia al-Massari, the panel From Note G to NASA: Women in Coding and Programming invites you to join self-described lady-coders, Amanda End, Allison Borngesser, and Amy Wibowo, to discover what being a coder is all about!

Bugs are awesome, especially this adorable and efficient ladybug

Whether you’re squeamish around creepy crawlies or a full-on bug fanatic, the panel Different Isn’t Bad: What Bugs Can Teach Us About Being Brave will open your eyes to all the unexpected and amazing things that bugs can teach us. Meet The Bug Chicks, Kristie Riddick and Jessica Honaker, entomologists using bugs to talk about social issues like prejudice, racism, sexism, and feelings of isolation, while simultaneously teaching about insects, spiders, and their relatives. They make videos and talk with young people all over the world, inspiring bravery and open-mindedness. You’re sure to find your inner bugdork here!

Footage of me on my way to the Droid-building panel

Last but certainly not least, the panel Droid Building 101: Make Your Own Astromech!, moderated by Christine Cato, will discuss the methods used by members of the BB-8 Builders Club and Astromech builders club to create their own BB-8 and Astromech droids. The panel will include a brief history of the two clubs, the materials they used to make their droids, and a peek into how to make your own!

I, for one, am extremely ready to learn more about all things coders, bugs, and droids. I hope to see you at these incredible panels, as well as all the others we have scheduled this weekend!

The Avengers know what’s up

Hanna Hupp
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Black History Month Inspiration: Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson, Engineer, Pioneer

As February moves forward this year, I’ve done a bunch of digging into inspirational African American writers, scientists, mathematicians, and historical figures throughout the past several hundred years. I could talk about Madam C.J. Walker, who started a company to educate and sell hair and beauty products for African American women in the early 1900s. I learned about Dr. Rebecca Cole, the second black woman to graduate from medical school; she worked with Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell (the first white woman doctor) in New York and taught hygiene and childcare to families in poor neighborhoods.

There are African American athletes I grew up hearing about: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who was an Olympian and World Champion several times over in long jump and heptathlon, was someone I watched compete whenever I could. Sports Illustrated for Women named her the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century; I joined track in high school because of her. I wasn’t any good, but she inspired me anyway. Tennis player Zina Garrison won my heart when I was watching Wimbledon one summer: she beat Monica Seles and Chris Evert to reach the finals of Wimbledon. She was an amazing athlete, and so much fun to watch–and she inspired me to join the tennis team at my high school. Again, I wasn’t very good, but I kept going because she did.

Sarah Grant
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Live Blog: Making Science Fun … With NASA

Hey, everyone. Susie Rantz here; I’ll be live-blogging at the Making Science Fun … with NASA panel. Here’s the description for this one:

Making Science Fun (with NASA)! – RM204
The Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Education and Public Outreach at NASA wants kids to be more engaged in science. This group of experienced NASA staff will give you tips from their educational programs to improve interest and science literacy in children of all backgrounds. And you will have the opportunity to ask them about what might work in your school or community.
Presented by Martha Wawro, Wendy Van Norden, Dawn Myers, Holly Csiga, Alice Enevoldsen

As a space geek, I’m really excited about this one. Lots of kids here. So awesome. Be sure to check out NASA at the GeekGirlConnections Room (101).

Holly Csiga, runs live performances at the Pacific Science Center, introducing herself: Born and raised in Alaska.

My favorite quote from her intro: “Science — when informally mixed with arts — can take you anywhere.”

Alice Enevoldsen, planetarium supervisor at the Pacific Science Center (who else loves the Science Center?). Alice started working at the planetarium in high school – wow!

My favorite quote from the intro: “Scientists are multi-faceted; they don’t just sit in a lab doing science all the time. Science is everywhere.”

Dawn Myers: Works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Does outreach to children about science and also helps run Solar Observing satellite. Cool!

Martha Wawro is the education and outreach lead with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Martha has been to Seattle three times in the last year for work; she also went to India to work at a space festival, and Alaska in June. Who wants her job?! 🙂

My favorite quote: “Our goal is to change people’s behaviors and ideas about science.”

Think Like a Scientist (tips for parents)
Encourage your kids to take notes. Any event that has multiple potential outcomes are great learning opportunities for your kids. Give kids the opportunity to think through a problem in multiple ways.

Activities
Now we are doing an activity that makes us think like a scientist. We are first being asked to OBSERVE what’s on the screen, not INFER. We are looking at footprints at the moment. Now we are being asked to INFER what happened to the footprints based on the observations. The point of this activity – we all came up with dozens of different scenarios. We don’t know for sure which scenario was right. The next step would be to do more research. The thought process with your kids is the most important process.

Select Resources Nearby

Pacific Science Center
Camps for Curious Minds (K-8)
Discovery Corps (gr. 8-12)

NASA
Women@NASA

IGNITE
Mentorship, internships

Expanding Your Horizons
Middle school and high school conferences

FabFems
Connect with local women in science, etc.

MESA
K-12 educational enrichment

NASA just introduced Camilla, their rubber chicken mascot, who HAS been to space.

In Q&A – someone asks how we can get people more excited about math. The answer? We need to keep separating math from everyone else, including science. We need to incorporate it into everyday life. There’s even a Space Math @ NASA website!

We are now talking about how to incorporate math and science into princess talk. Those cone-hats that princesses wear? That’s geometry. Making a princess dress requires measurement. We can measure the circumference of a tiara! Also, along with your bedtime stories, you can do bedtime math with your kids! Check out their website: http://bedtimemathproblem.org.

Guest Contributor
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This Week in History of the Geek

September 5th
1977 – NASA launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket. Voyager 1 included a large, 3.7-meter parabolic, high-gain antenna to share data with the Deep Space Network on Earth. The craft photographed both Jupiter and Saturn providing close-up observations of moons, rings, and planets.

September 8th
1966 –  Star Trek debuted on NBC! Star Trek ran from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969. Star Trek‘s ratings were low resulting in cancellation after only three seasons (79 episodes). Star Trek became a cult classic in syndication during the 1970s spawning additional television series, theatrical films, and numerous books, games, and other products.

September 7th
1951 – Julie Kavner, actress and the voice of Marge Simpson on The Simpsons, was born in Los Angeles, California on September 7, 1951.

Guest Contributor
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Links We Loved Last Week

In addition to providing news about our upcoming convention, GeekGirlCon loves sharing the latest and greatest geek news.

Here are some of our favorite geeky links from the week of August 1-7:

Can comics that don’t star white men sell?, The Beat
NASA Spacecraft Data Suggest Water Flowing on Mars, Neatorama
Happy Shark Week!, I Can Has Cheezburger
Womanthology Wrap-Up, Kickstarter
DC Comics Promises to Hire More Women after Reader Backlash, Guardian
‘Star Trek’ Captains Join Forces in New William Shatner Documentary, Space.com
20 Years Ago Today: The First Website Is Published, Wired

Guest Contributor
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