The Real Women Mathematicians of Hidden Figures - Black History Month Blog Hop & Giveaway

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Have you seen Hidden Figures yet? Now as a family we hardly ever go to the movies. We really do not like supporting the Hollywood scene or spending the huge amounts that it costs to go out and get a popcorn. However on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day our family went to the movie theater to see Hidden Figures. Between my love of multicultural stories and math, my engineering husband's love of space, and Hazel's love of history and learning, we all loved this movie. We felt it was worth the money spent and found it to be a great activity for the day. Now I was especially excited for the movie since my post last year for the Black History Month Blog Hop was about Katherine Johnson. The movie made me want to learn even more and teach Hazel more about these amazing women. 

 Now the movie focuses on a part of the lives of three of the black human computers of NASA, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan. It is based on the book, Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. The novel includes Christine Darden, but she is left out of the movie. I have not read the book yet. I am on the waiting list for our local library and with the various snow days meaning library closings the list is taking quite a long time. However I did get a copy of Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition also by Margot Lee Shetterly. I was able to get this book using my Amazon credits that I earned through Dealspotr. If you would like to earn your own Amazon gift cards on Dealspotr join me here. It is really easy!! I decided to buy the Young Readers' Edition so I could share the story with Hazel. Of course reading a chapter book with Hazel takes much more time, so we have not finished it.

The book goes into so much more detail about these women and does a wonderful job of explaining things that children may not know or understand. It begins with Dorothy Vaughan. The book tells about the women before they came to work for NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which is now known as NASA). Dorothy Vaughan left her family for a job at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Her husband already traveled for his job and they were living with her in-laws in a large house in a small town. She left her children in the care of her in-laws to try to do better for her family. She was able to bring the kids to live with her within a year. Dorothy Vaughan became the first African American woman appointed as a supervisor at NACA. She first became the acting supervisor when her supervisor became ill and then had to leave. It took two years to get the acting out of her title and get the supervisor pay. 
L Dorothy Vaughan M Leslie Hunter R Vivian Adair
Left Dorothy Vaughan Middle Leslie Hunter Right Vivian Adair, Human Computers working at NACA, later NASA By Beverly Golemba [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Dorothy Vaughan was started at NACA in 1943. This was during World War II which is why so many jobs opened for women and then black women. Many black women with mathematics degrees could only become teachers which Dorothy had done as well. She was excited for a real mathematician job. She was a true leader in her field and went on to work with the mechanical (non-human) computers and master computer programming languages. She began at a time where the goals were to create the fastest airplanes and moved into the space age.  She retired from NASA in 1971. She died in 2008. It must have been an exciting time to be working for NACA. (Source)

Mary Jackson working
Mary Jackson Working By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Mary Winston Jackson was hired by NACA in 1951. She worked under Dorothy Vaughan. Mary's family had deep roots in the Hampton, Virginia area. Before coming to NACA she ran a community center run by United Services Organization (USO). It was at one of the USO dances that she met Levi Jackson whom she married. When World War II ended the community center closed and she applied for the job at Langley and got it. Mary suffered some humiliation working as a black woman at Langley. The biggest time was when looking for a bathroom to use. Her white coworkers laughed at her and told her they had no reason to know where colored bathrooms are located. Mary was upset and got noticed by an engineer who knew her and when she told him her story he said come work for me. She did and she got to work in one of the best wind tunnels testing planes that flew faster than the speed of sound. Mary went on to become an engineer and could have been the first African American aeronautical engineer.  However she did not move into a supervisory position. She decided to apply for Langley's Federal Women's Program Manager to help other women fight the glass ceiling and sexism. She retired in 1985 having received many honors. She died in 2005. (Source)
Hidden Figures Premiere (NHQ201612010035)
Katherine Johnson watching the premiere of Hidden Figures
with fellow human computers By NASA/Aubrey Gemignani [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Now last year I wrote about Katherine Johnson. Her story is rather amazing. She became a single working mother while working for NACA. She had three daughters to raise and she promised her dying husband she would keep them on track after he was gone and she did! She also was one of three (and the only woman) to be handpicked to integrate the graduate school programs in West Virginia. She started working on her graduate degree in mathematics but had to leave after the first session because she was pregnant. She began to work at NACA in 1953. She became well known for her mathematical computations. She received many honors in her time at NASA. This past year she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. She was 97 years old when she got it. (Source)
Katherine Johnson medal
Katherine Johnson with her Presidential Medal of Freedom By NASA
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Christine Darden
Christine Darden in the control room of NASA Langley's Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel in 1975
 By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Now Christine Darden was not part of the movie, but she is in the book. Unfortunately I have not read far enough to share from the book. She began to work for NASA in 1965 as a data analyst. In 1973 she became an aerospace engineer. She was put into management positions and received many awards and honors in her career. She developed a computer program for minimizing the sonic boom. She also received her PhD in fluid mechanics while working full time at NASA. She retired in 2007 from NASA.  (Source: Wikipedia, Black Ladies, NASAHistorymakers )

These women and more did amazing work and I wish I knew about them when I was teaching math. Their work needs to become public knowledge to inspire more girls and especially black girls into math and science. However there is a hope already begun. There is a page of Future Katherine Johnsons to hear the stories of these young women.

Welcome to our fourth annual Black History Month series and giveaway! Follow along all month long as we explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and African-Americans. Be sure to enter our giveaway below and link up your own posts at the bottom of the page.
You can also follow our Black History board on Pinterest:

February 3 Embracing Diversity on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Afro-Latino Arturo Schomburg - The African Diaspora's History Keeper
February 6 Embracing Diversity: Afro-Latinos and Baseball's Color Line - 5 Pioneers in the Post-Segregation Era
February 7 Hispanic Mama: 5 Latino Dishes that Feature Our African Heritage
February 8 Mama Smiles: How to Use Stories to Teach Children Black History
February 10 Colours of Us: 21 Award-Winning Children's Books for Black History Month
February 13 Crafty Moms Share
February 15 All Done Monkey
February 17 A Crafty Arab
February 22 Kitchen Counter Chronicles
February 24 GUBlife

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Black History Month Giveaway

Coming soon! Our annual Black History Month giveaway runs from February 3 through February 28, 2017. Winners will be drawn and notified within 48 hours. Note that some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner lives outside of that shipping area, that part of the prize package will go to the next prize winner. Read our full giveaway rules. Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - Grand Prize

Grand Prize

From World of EPI: Winner's choice of 18" doll US Shipping Only From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer From Quarto Knows: A Stork in a Baobab Tree by Catherine House: Who is King? by Beverley Naidoo; The Fire Children retold by Eric Maddern; Thank you, Jackson by Niki Daly US Shipping Only From Bino & Fino: DVD set US Shipping Only From RiverFrog Publishing: Bella's Adventures in Africa by Rebecca Darko and Rutendo Muzambi
Black History Month giveaway from Multicultural Kid Blogs - 1st Prize

1st Prize

From Queens of Africa: Azeezah doll with natural hair, and clothing from SLICEbyCAKE US Shipping Only From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer From Abrams: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters; Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden; George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden; My Uncle Martin's Words for America by Angela Farris Watkins US Shipping Only
Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - 2nd Prize

2nd Prize

From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer From Candlewick Press: Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill; X: A Novel by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz; Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford US Shipping Only
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