Pride in STEM: Sally Ride Inspired Rocket Ship

Celebrate Pride in STEM!

Activity best for children age 2 and up

As a child, Sally Ride loved to learn about math and science. When she grew up she became an astrophysicist, or a scientist who studies space. This led her to become an astronaut with NASA. As an astronaut, she became the first American woman to go to space! Dr. Sally Ride traveled to space on the Space Shuttle Challenger. The Space Shuttle was the first reusable space vehicle that carried people and materials into space and back to earth. She also helped design the robotic arm that was used to move large materials around outside of the shuttle. When she retired from NASA she became a professor and helped students, especially girls, study science and math. In honor of Dr. Sally Ride we are going to make space shuttles! Where will you be inspired to travel to on your space shuttle?

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Materials you’ll need:

Toilet paper or paper towel roll




Markers, crayons or colored pencils

White paint (optional)

Guiding Questions:

Do you think it is easy to be an astronaut?

What kind of training do you think astronauts need?

Does it take a long time to travel to space?

If you could go to space what do you think you would see? Hear, feel, smell?

Do you think that the real Space Shuttles are big or small?

What does the Space Shuttle need to have to keep the astronauts safe in space?


Have a grown up help you make an outline of the space shuttle wings on a large piece of cardboard. Then cut it out. The nose of the shuttle should be longer than the paper toilet roll and the roll should extend a little bit over the edge of the shuttle.

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Cut an opening on the paper roll. This will be the cockpit where a toy figure can sit and be the pilot of your space shuttle.

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Glue the two pieces together and let dry!

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Paint the shuttle white (if you want to!). After the paint has dried, use markers or crayons to add some decorations to your space shuttle. You can add some orange “flames” to the inside of the paper roll to look like the rocket engine is on!

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Grown ups, are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connection
When I Grow Up: Sally Ride by AnnMarie Harris
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Science Connections
Check out an air and space museum either in person or online to see exciting exhibits about astronauts, space and science. The California Science Center has the Space Shuttle Endeavour on exhibit.

Real World Connections
Take a look at the night sky. What do you see? Can you imagine yourself traveling to space?

For ages 6+
Can you build a space shuttle from legos? Try to build a larger shuttle from cardboard. What kind of instruments would you include on your space shuttle?