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Keywords:

  • space science education;
  • solar physics;
  • middle school students;
  • female role models

Where on the Web can a middle school girl ask a female solar scientist about solar storms, the course and behavior of charged solar particles, and the origin of the Sun's dynamo—and also find out what the scientist was like as a child, whether the scientist has tattoos or enjoys snowboarding, what she likes and dislikes about her career, and how she balances her energy for work and family life? These kinds of exchanges happen at Solar Week (http://www.solarweek.org; see Figure 1). Established in 2000, Solar Week is an online resource for middle and lower high school students about the science of the Sun, sponsored by the Center for Science Education at the Space Sciences Laboratory (CSE@SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). The Web site's goals are to educate students about the Sun and solar physics and to encourage future careers in science—especially for girls. One way is by giving solar scientists the chance to be relatable role models, to answer students' questions, and to share their experiences in an online forum.