Written by Colorado Girl Scout Alumnae, Emily Walters, who earned her Gold Award in 2004
Girl Scouts and the Girl Scout Gold Award has helped me get to where I am today.
I was recently fortunate to work on the GRAIL satellite project at Lockheed Martin. GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) is a two satellite system that will orbit the moon to analyze the internal structure and lunar gravity. They are relatively small compared to other satellites, about the size of a washer and dryer, and launched toward the moon on Sept. 8, 2011. I was a part of the team that assembled the spacecraft, tested each component of the spacecraft as it was added, and tested the fully integrated system. Prior to the launch, I worked in Cape Canaveral, Florida to do final testing and integrate the GRAIL satellites to the rocket. Some days I wrote procedures or code software scripts, other days I worked in a cleanroom bunny suit running a test on the spacecraft. I got to work directly with the hardware to get to know the satellites in and out. On Sept. 8th, I helped the team launch the rocket for its journey to the moon!
In school and growing up, I was always interested in math and science. When it was time to decide what I wanted to do for my Gold Award project (one of Girl Scouts most prestigious awards), I knew that I wanted to do something to share my love of math and science. When I was in high school, I earned my Gold Award for starting a summer science program for elementary aged kids. It was an opportunity for me to have fun and help inspire others with my passion for science. During my project, I led the children through different science topics and experiments. Since I had always been interested in space, we had a “space week” where we explored different space topics.
What helped me the most with earning my Gold Award were the team building experiences that I had through Girl Scouts. I had an opportunity to learn about leadership and eventually take the lead. I also had to go outside of my comfort zone while working on my Gold Award, which helped me push my boundaries. I use these skills at work by asserting myself with a team to make sure that GRAIL was ready to go to the moon. On Sept. 8th, I sat in front of a monitor in the Mission Control Center as the rocket counted down to take GRAIL to the moon.
If you want to learn more about GRAIL, visit these sites:
- Pictures of the rocket and satellites: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=233
- GRAIL science mission: http://moon.mit.edu/