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Urban Zen, Hand-knitted Spacemen and STEM Education

Photonics.com
Mar 2011
Mar. 24, 2011 — NASA has lately reached out to girls and young women in its efforts to attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering and math. It has partnered with the Foundation for Advancing Women Now (FFAWN), created by singer Mary J. Blige, and even worked with the online art and crafts marketplace Etsy.

Earlier this week, the agency led an education forum in New York City designed to encourage young people – especially girls, organizers said – to pursue studies and careers in STEM. With an audience of more than 200 middle school and high school students, the event featured talks by NASA senior officials and even a Q&A with astronaut Cady Coleman, who was able to participate even though she is living and working aboard the International Space Station.

In hosting this forum, NASA collaborated with fashion designer Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation as well as the Foundation for Advancing Women Now. “By collaborating with organizations like Urban Zen and FFAWN, whose missions are aligned with ours, we can identify and reach out to students who may not otherwise realize the opportunities that are available,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education – and former astronaut – Leland Melvin.

Just a few days before, across the East River in Brooklyn, NASA and Etsy announced the winners of the “Space Craft” contest. Here, entrants were challenged to create handmade art and crafts inspired by NASA programs, including the space shuttle, human spaceflight, aeronautics, science and exploration of the universe.

The goal of this rather unique collaboration was to inspire Etsy’s 5.8 million members – the majority of whom are women, NASA said – to learn more about the agency’s past, present and future exploration programs.

The contest received more than 600 entries in three categories: two-dimensional original art, reproductions of original pieces and three-dimensional art. The two-dimensional entries included paintings, drawings, rings, mixed media, photographs and computer-generated prints. The three-dimensional pieces, everything from wearable art to furniture.

Finalists included the “Major Tom” hand-knitted spaceman and “Space Odyssey,” a stained-glass transom. View these and other entries here:  www.etsy.com/nasa 

Cady ColemanDifferent WavelengthsDonna KaraneducationEtsyFFAWNGary BoasGary Boas BlogLeland MelvinMajor TomMary J. BligeNASASpace CraftSpace OdysseySTEMThe Foundation for Advancing Women NowUrban Zen Foundation

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