Teaching Students About Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison is a renowned American astronaut, physician, and engineer who made history as the first African American woman to travel to space. She is a remarkable inspiration to students around the globe, and teaching children about her accomplishments is essential in shaping young minds to look beyond the limitations that society may impose based on race or gender. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can teach students about Mae Jemison in an engaging and meaningful way.

Who is Mae Jemison?

Mae Jemison was born in 1956 in Alabama, USA. She grew up in Chicago, and from a young age, she developed a keen interest in science and space exploration. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 before joining the Peace Corps for two years, where she taught science in Sierra Leone, Africa. Upon her return to the USA, she earned a medical degree from Cornell University in 1981, and in 1987 Mae Jemison was selected by NASA to become the first African American woman to travel to space. During her space mission, which lasted eight days, she conducted various experiments on material science to investigate weightlessness and motion sickness.

Teaching tips for kids

Introducing Mae Jemison to young learners can ignite their curiosity and interest in science, space exploration, or overcoming barriers. Below are different teaching techniques that you can incorporate to teach kids about Mae Jemison:

1. Reading books and watching videos

There are several biographies for kids about Mae Jemison available in libraries and bookstores. Reading Mae Jemison’s story with your students can help them learn about her journey and significant achievements. Also, watching videos about Mae Jemison and her space mission can be a valuable addition to your lesson, as it provides visual aids to make the learning process more engaging and memorable.

2. STEM activities

Mae Jemison’s journey to space inspires kids to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Conducting STEM activities with your students can be a great way of teaching science in a fun and engaging way. For example, you can ask your students to conduct experiments related to weightlessness and motion sickness.

3. Create a timeline

Creating a timeline of Mae Jemison’s life and achievements with your students can help them understand the significant milestones in her career. You can use pictures and significant events to create a visually appealing timeline that your students can reference throughout the lesson.

4. Motivational speeches

Mae Jemison’s story of overcoming barriers and achieving her goals can inspire kids to believe in themselves and their capabilities. You can share Mae Jemison’s speeches with your students to motivate and encourage them to pursue their dreams no matter the obstacles they may face.

Final thoughts

Teaching kids about Mae Jemison can introduce them to an extraordinary woman who made history through her passion and dedication. Through her achievements, Mae Jemison shows that with hard work, anything is possible. Incorporating Mae Jemison’s story into your teaching provides an opportunity to motivate and ignite your student’s curiosity for science, space exploration, and breaking barriers.     

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