In doing its part to encourage girls to get into STEM subjects, NASA has launched an educational virtual tour for students that shows the careers of seven women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
NASA’s Modern Figures tour, created in partnership with the 20th Century Fox film Hidden Figures, is the space agency’s first themed career guide. Available on Google’s free Expeditions app and viewed using Google Cardboard, the tour includes a 3D-virtual look at a 100,000-square-foot aircraft hangar, simulated Martian landscape, a space flight operations facility and more.
The women from the tour work as material scientists, launch directors and software engineers. Christina Diaz (pictured), for example, is an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she develops Mars rovers like NASA’s Curiosity.
The release of the tour follows a 2016 Space Act Agreement between NASA and Google to improve education and public engagement. There will be more tours to follow, including a 3D one of the International Space Station, and one of NASA’s Juno Mission to Jupiter.
This isn’t NASA’s first attempt to reach girls through play. Just last week, Lego announced a partnership with the space agency to release a Women of NASA set.
Of course, the idea of promoting STEM subjects to young girls has been gaining significant traction both in the TV and toy spaces. On the TV front, examples include Amazon Prime series Annedroids and Dot., the show from Randi Zuckerberg and The Jim Henson Company that follows the titular character as she tries to solve problems with technology, math and science. For toys, market leader GoldieBlox recently rebranded and launched a YouTube series to encourage more young girls to consider STEM fields.
The moves aren’t just popular, they are increasingly necessary, as women make up only 24% of STEM workers in the US.