“Everywhere I go I meet girls and boys who want to be astronauts and explore space, or they love the ocean and want to be oceanographers, or they love animals and want to be zoologists or they love designing things and want to be engineers. I want to see those same stars in their eyes in 10 years and know they are on their way.”
Those are the words of Sally Ride, the late astronaut, physicist and educator who inspired countless young people to fall in love with science and math.
Ride was born in 1951 in Los Angeles. As she was completing her Ph.D. in physics at Stanford University in 1977, she decided to apply to NASA. Six years later, the 32-year-old physicist joined the Challenger space shuttle crew and became the first American woman to fly in space.
In her later years, Ride became concerned with the education of young people. Specifically, she worried about girls and minority students not pursuing an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In 2001, Ride helped launch Sally Ride Science, an organization dedicated to encouraging young people to pursue careers in STEM fields. The organization is said to have trained thousands of teachers and reached millions of students.
In a blog post for Google, the astronaut's life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, wrote that Ride would’ve been “honored” by Tuesday’s doodle.
“Sally died almost three years ago on July 23, 2012, from pancreatic cancer. But I know she would be honored by today’s Google Doodle,” O’Shaughnessy wrote. “With whimsy, it expresses Sally’s sense of fun and adventure, and her ability to inspire young people. And who knows -- maybe her Doodle will motivate some girl or boy somewhere in the world to become a scientist and adventurer just like Sally.”