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NASA's Kim Arcand Spends Time with Lincoln School Parents Association

By Lynne Dansereau, President of the Lincoln School Parents Association (LSPA)

"I didn’t know mommies could be scientists." – Dr. Kimberly Arcand

Dr. Kimberly Arcand is the Visualization Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has its headquarters at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is also an award-winning producer and director. She is a non-fiction author, and her first two children’s books are being released in 2020: An Alien Helped Me with My Homework (Stillwater River Publications, February, 2020) and Goodnight Exomoon (Cottage Door Press, June, 2020).

When she visited with the LSPA, Kim presented her work on the Chandra X-ray which was released by NASA in 1999 and is the world’s most powerful x-ray telescope.  She uses NASA data to help tell stories about science, whether in the form of a 3D model of an exploded star or a book about the Universe.

Kim co-authored an OpEd with Head of School Suzanne Fogarty that was published in the January 10, 2020 issue of The Providence Business News. Together, they highlighted the importance of STEAM, which adds the dynamic “A” for “art” into the traditional STEM acronym [science, technology, engineering and math], as an interdisciplinary approach that the world, and especially girls and women, need in order to move boldly into the future. Employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990, but women make up less than one quarter of those employed in STEM occupations. When the arts are combined with STEM, it can be a powerful gateway to these disciplines. 

In October, Kim spent some time with Lincoln students in Grades 4-6, conducting a workshop that took them through a series of activities that demonstrated real world applications of science, technology, and even art. She taught students the basic coding of familiar space objects, including exploding stars and black holes and explored astronomy through 3D modeling and virtual reality, working with real NASA data. When she spoke with the parents, she explained that her workshops came about after she spent some time in her daughter’s classroom about five years ago and one her daughter's classmates approached her afterwards and said “I didn’t know mommies could be scientists.” She said that comment will stay with her forever and, although she wasn't surprised to hear it, she wants to change that way of thinking in young girls and is convinced that introducing girls to STEAM as early as possible is the key to changing this mindset!

Please click here for more information on Kim Arcand.