Sally Ride was the first U.S. woman in space, and a graduate of LAUSD elementary and middle schools. On Monday, the Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science opened with a goal of providing students and teachers with the same equipment found in modern environmental testing labs. Kim Baldonado reports from Glassell Park for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012.
A state-of-the-art science center named for late astronaut Sally Ride – an Encino native and the first U.S. woman in space – was unveiled Monday in Glassell Park.
The $4.8 million facility includes hydrology and energy labs and will take advantage of the nearby LA River as an outdoor classroom.
The goal of the center is to provide both teachers and students with the same equipment and workspace found in modern environmental testing labs – and students say that keeps them interested.
"It encourages us to do a lot better and let us know there is more out there and we can reach our goals," said Jessica Recendez, student at Los Angeles River School.
Naturally, a launch countdown on Monday preceded the ribbon cutting at the Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science at LAUSD.
Ride died in July after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Her sister says Ride would be pleased to know this place of learning has been named in her honor.
"She was a very private and humble person so she’d be standing in the back corner, but that's why she has family so they can stand out there and say yeah, this is terrific," said Rev. Bear Ride.
The late astronaut was the first U.S. woman in space, and a graduate of LAUSD elementary and middle schools.
Sally "remembered fondly her sixth grade teacher rolling in the black and white TV into the classroom so the students could watch the landing of the modules and the astronauts," Rev. Ride recalled.
It was those early years, she said, that peaked her sister’s interest in science.
Space shuttle Endeavour’s stunning SoCal flyover and surreal crawl through Los Angeles streets have provided a rich source of scientific inspiration for local students.
The Sally Ride Center for Environmental Science, officials say, will continue to foster that curiosity among Southland students.
And for current students, there’s plenty of space exploration with Southern California connections happening right now:
The shuttle Endeavour was recently retired to its new home in Exposition Park.
The Mars Curiosity Rover, developed at JPL in La Cañada Flintridge, is busy exploring the Red Planet.
And the Dragon Capsule, which delivered cargo to the International Space Station, was built by SpaceX in Hawthorne and became the first successful private space venture.