A Look into Space with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dr. Mae Jemison -- #blacklivesmatter


#blacklivesmatter series

Last week we had a relaxing and fun stay-cation. Stay tuned for some posts on things we did. Today I return somewhat refreshed to get writing my posts for you. This week for Black Lives Matter Series I thought we would look into space with two famous black scientists: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dr. Mae Jemison. Both are on the list from my black teacher friends as people we should all know so here is your chance to learn about these amazing people.

Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson at Howard University September 28, 2010
At Howard University 2010 by Bruce F Press / CC BY

Neil deGrasse Tyson was born on October 5, 1958 in New York City. At the age of 9 he went to the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum and fell in love with space. He took classes at the planetarium and saved his money to buy his own telescope. At the age of 15 he gave his first astronomy lecture and got paid $50! He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1976.  In got a Bachelor's Degree in Physics from Harvard University and then attended Columbia University and earned a doctorate in astrophysics in 1991. He worked for a few years at Princeton University and then he got his dream job at the Hayden Planetarium. He became director of the Hayden Planetarium. One of his controversial decisions was to remove Pluto from the Solar System display. He believed it was a dwarf planet. In 2006 the International Astronomical Union followed his lead and named Pluto a dwarf planet. Neil even wrote a book about Pluto and the controversy, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet. PBS/NOVA did a documentary called The Pluto Files based on his book. 

Neil has written several books, many articles and also has hosted radio and television shows. He also has served on two federal commissions about space exploration. He was appointed by President George W. Bush both times. In the summer of 2009 he found some stand-up comedians to help him launch StarTalk which brought science to commercial radio. It is now a podcast and a television series on National Geographic Channel. In 2014 Neil hosted and was executive producer for a 13-episode television show called Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey

Neil deGrasse Tyson in June 2017
Neil deGrasse Tyson in June 2017 by Norwegian University of Science and Technology / CC BY-SA

Throughout his life Neil has tried to share his knowledge and excitement about astrophysics with others. He has received many awards and helped with many different projects. He truly believes everyone should be curious every day. To teach your kids more about this amazing man, check out these children's book about and by him.
Be sure to check out my review of StarTalk with Neil de Grasse Tyson.


Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison crop 2009 CHAO
Mae C. Jemison in 2009 by Science History Institute / CC BY-SA

Mae Carol Jemison was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. She was the youngest for three children and her mother was an elementary school teacher and her father was a maintenance supervisor. Her family moved to Chicago a few years after Mae was born. At an early age she loved science and dance. She watched the Apollo launches with her siblings and was upset that there were no female astronauts. She was inspired by Nichelle Nichols, the Black actress who played Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. She dreamed of getting to space some day. In 1973, at the age of 16 she graduated from Morgan Park High School. She attended Stanford University. She was one of the only Black students and often was discriminated against because of her race. She served as the president of the Black Student Union. She graduated in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and a Bachelor of Arts degree in African and African-American Studies. She then went to Cornell Medical School. While there she traveled to Cuba and Thailand. She received her Doctorate in Medicine in 1981. She practiced general medicine for a few years before joining the Peace Corps and working in Africa. After two years in the Peace Corps she returned to America and practiced general medicine again. In 1983 when Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, Mae decided to apply to NASA for the astronaut program. She applied in 1985 but after the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up in 1986 NASA stopped taking new people. She applied again in 1987 and was one of the fifteen people chosen from over 2,000 applications. 
Mae Jemison in Space by NASA

She trained with NASA and was selected for her first mission. On September 12, 1992, she and six other astronauts went on the Space Shuttle Endeavour into space. They orbited 127 times and returned on September 20, 1992. She became the first Black woman in space. She achieved her childhood dream! She left NASA in 1993 after being there for six years. 

After leaving NASA she opened the Jemison Group. She also accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth University. In 1994 she founded an international science camp for students aged 12 to 16 called The Earth We Share. She has won many awards and honors and was the first real astronaut to be on Star Trek. She currently is working on the 100 Year Starship Project which is working to ensure humans can travel to another star in the next 100 years. Her life has been filled with science. She is an engineer, doctor, dancer, astronaut and teacher. She is truly trying to encourage our kids into science. 

To teach your kids more about Dr. Mae Jemison check out these books about and by her.


I hope you will join us next week as we explore more of the people on our list for our Black Lives Matter Series!