These Chesterfield students reach for the stars at NASA’s Wallops Island

Posted at 6:45 AM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 09:42:40-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- While there have been significant gains, women are still underrepresented in STEM fields. A group of young women in Chesterfield County high schools hope to change that.

They attended the Virginia Space Coast Scholars Summer Academy at the NASA Flight Facility at Wallops Island. The summer program showcased the talents of around 120 high school students from across the state.

There they designed rockets, scientific balloons, and launched vehicles.

"I go on college tours and we get all the stats on how many women are in science," Midlothian High School student Brianna Cantrall said. "(I see) all these support groups for women who are going into science and it's just really cool to see the numbers growing."

With the success of the book and movie "Hidden Figures," more young girls are considering STEM careers.

Visiting Wallops showed the students how much the employees at NASA enjoy their careers.

"It's one thing to listen to a teacher talk about it," Clover Hill High School student Halle Mitchell said, “but it’s even better when you actually see it in action and see experts and they love what they're doing."

Clover Hill High student Haley Craft said NASA and STEM fields are for everyone with a passion for science.

"You get it, or you don't get it," Haley said. "Sure, there's some bias sometimes, but if you're really there to be a scientist then it's just, it is what it is."

Reaching for the stars doesn't necessarily mean wanting to leave the planet, according to Haley’s mom Jodie Craft.

"She really likes it, but then when we talk about her going to Mars, she's like, 'No, I just want to plan it,'" she said with a laugh.

Building an interest in outer space is building better minds.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs Wednesday on CBS 6 This Morning.