Ivanka Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos celebrate Women's History Month by encouraging girls in STEM

Ivanka Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Tuesday on the importance of women in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The museum hosted the event in collaboration with the Department of Education and NASA to celebrate Women's History Month and offer encouragement to female students interested in STEM.

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Ivanka Trump and Betsy Devos visit Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
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Ivanka Trump and Betsy Devos visit Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Ivanka Trump stands with students at an astronaut exhibit during visit to the Smithsonian?s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump view an exhibit during a visit to the Smithsonian?s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump speaks during a visit to the Smithsonian?s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Ivanka Trump touches a piece of moon rock at an exhibit at the Smithsonian?s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Jack Dailey, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump speak during a visit to the Smithsonian?s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump greets female students highlighting the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics while touring The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump tours the Air and Space Museum during an event highlighting women who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump delivers remarks at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum during an event highlighting women who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump tours the Air and Space Museum during an event highlighting women who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump delivers remarks at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum during an event highlighting women who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump tours the Air and Space Museum during an event highlighting women who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump greets female students highlighting the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics while touring The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Ivanka Trump greets female students highlighting the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics while touring The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos March 28, 2017 in Washington DC. Trump and DeVos toured the museum as part of Women's History Month. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Students from schools in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland were invited to talk with NASA astronaut Kay Hire and visit discovery stations --"Living and Working in Space," "Black Holes," and "Moon Rocks" -- that allowed students to learn about what an astronaut does while in orbit, the impact of black holes in our solar system and see rocks brought back from the moon. The students then listened to short speeches by the invited speakers before watching the acclaimed film "Hidden Figures."

Trump and DeVos were joined by the Smithsonian's John and Adriennes Mars Director Jack Dailey and student educator Rae Stewart, who related personal stories and encouraged young girls to explore careers in STEM.

SEE ALSO: Trump signs order sweeping away Obama-era policies

"Women's participation in STEM, where so many jobs of the future will come from, is critical in the fight for wage equality and for the empowerment of women in the economy," Trump told the students.

She also urged boys to "empower" and "support" their female classmates. "The playing field will only be leveled if we can all work together to eliminate these long-standing barriers," she said.

While President Donald Trump in February signed twobills encouraging women in STEM fields through NASA and the National Science Foundation, critics noted that he is eliminating funding for NASA's education programs in his 2018 proposed budget.

NASA's best photos of 2016

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NASA's best photos of 2016
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NASA's best photos of 2016

Sunset From the International Space Station

Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams of NASA captured a series of photos for this composite image of the setting sun reflected by the ocean.

Photo Credit: NASA

Space Station Flight Over the Southern Tip of Italy

The southern tip of Italy is visible in this image taken by the Expedition 49 crew aboard the International Space Station on Sept. 17, 2016. The brightly lit city of Naples can be seen in the bottom section of the image. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in the foreground.

Photo Credit: NASA

Star Trails Seen From Low Earth Orbit

Astronauts on the International Space Station captured a series of incredible star trail images on Oct. 3, 2016, as they orbited at 17,500 miles per hour. The station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, and astronauts aboard see an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours.

Photo Credit: NASA

Many Fantastic Colors

The Nili Fossae region, located on the northwest rim of Isidis impact basin, is one of the most colorful regions of Mars. This region is ancient and has had a complicated geologic history, leading to interesting structures like layered bedrock, as well as other compositions.

Photo Credit: NASA

Wind Carved Rock on Mars

The distinctively fluted surface and elongated hills in this image in Medusae Fossae are caused by wind erosion of a soft fine-grained rock. Called yardangs, these features are aligned with the prevailing wind direction. This wind direction would have dominated for a very long time to carve these large-scale features into the exposed rock.

Photo Credit: NASA

Rains of Terror on Exoplanet HD 189733b

This Halloween, take a tour with NASA's Exoplanet Exploration site of some of the most terrifying destinations in our galaxy. The nightmare world of HD 189733 b is the killer you never see coming. To the human eye, this far-off planet looks bright blue. But any space traveler confusing it with the friendly skies of Earth would be badly mistaken.

Photo Credit: NASA

Aurora and Manicouagan Crater

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station adjusted the camera for night imaging and captured the green veils and curtains of an aurora that spanned thousands of kilometers over Quebec, Canada.

Photo Credit: NASA

Paris at Night

Around local midnight time on April 8, 2015, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Paris, often referred to as the “City of Light.” The pattern of the street grid dominates at night, providing a completely different set of visual features from those visible during the day.

Photo Credit: NASA

Stargazing From the International Space Station

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) see the world at night on every orbit — that’s 16 times each crew day. An astronaut took this broad, short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Photo Credit: NASA

Election Day 2016

Thanks to a bill passed by Texas legislators that put in place technical voting procedure for astronauts, they have the ability to vote from space through specially designed absentee ballots. To preserve the integrity of the secret vote, the ballot is encrypted and only accessible by the astronaut and the county clerk responsible for casting it.

Photo Credit: NASA

Fiery South Atlantic Sunset

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed a sunset that looks like a vast sheet of flame. With Earth’s surface already in darkness, the setting sun, the cloud masses, and the sideways viewing angle make a powerful image of the kind that astronauts use to commemorate their flights.

Photo Credit: NASA

Ring Details on Display

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn's rings.

Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble Takes Flight with the Toucan and the Cluster

NGC 299 is an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud just under 200,000 light-years away.

Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble Spies Spiral Galaxy

Spiral galaxy NGC 3274 is a relatively faint galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion).

Photo Credit: NASA

Practicing Orion Spacecraft Recovery After Splashdown

A group of U.S. Navy divers, Air Force pararescuemen and Coast Guard rescue swimmers practice Orion underway recovery techniques in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to prepare for the first test flight of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft with the agency’s Space Launch System rocket during Exploration Mission (EM-1).

Photo Credit: NASA

A Trio of Plumes in the South Sandwich Islands

On September 29, 2016, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this false-color image (MODIS bands 7-2-1) showing volcanic activity in the South Sandwich Islands. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, the uninhabited South Sandwich Islands include several active stratovolcanoes.

Photo Credit: NASA

Infrared Echoes of a Black Hole Eating a Star

This illustration shows a glowing stream of material from a star, disrupted as it was being devoured by a supermassive black hole. The feeding black hole is surrounded by a ring of dust. This dust was previously illuminated by flares of high-energy radiation from the feeding black hole, and is now shown re-radiating some of that energy.

Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble Views a Colorful Demise of a Sun-like Star

This star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core.

Credit: NASA

Infrared Saturn Clouds

This false-color view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows clouds in Saturn's northern hemisphere. The view was made using images taken by Cassini's wide-angle camera on July 20, 2016, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to infrared light at 750, 727 and 619 nanometers.

Photo credit: NASA

Moonset Viewed From the International Space Station

Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA took this striking photograph of the moon from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station on March 28, 2016. Peake shared the image on March 30 and wrote to his social media followers, "I was looking for #Antarctica – hard to spot from our orbit. Settled for a moonset instead."

Photo credit: NASA

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"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump are feigning an interest in STEM careers with a photo op at the National Air and Space Museum while eliminating all funding for NASA's education programs," American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a press release. "This takes chutzpah to a new level. If this administration was genuinely interested in promoting STEM programs, it would walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The next generation of astronauts, scientists, engineers and mathematicians need support, not budget cuts eliminating the very programs being promoted."

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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