NASA Scientist Study Goes Into Orbit

15 Nov 2017
ByMaria Asteinza

Ethical Culture fifth graders kicked off this curricular unit by watching the film Hidden Figures, about a group of African-American women mathematicians who played a key role during the early years of the U.S. space program.

After viewing the film, students decided which one of six female NASA scientists, mathematicians, or engineers—all of whom worked at the organization during the Civil Rights era—they would study, either individually or collaboratively, as part of a research project.

"This is a new interdisciplinary research project," noted math and science teacher Jen Erdman. "One that combines math, science, and social studies while at the same time highlighting unknown or under-recognized NASA influencers of the Civil Rights era."

Fifth graders are now busy completing their research and will soon share their findings with classmates in the form of a final presentation. They were given a choice, and most have elected to present either a Google slideshow, poster, or first-person narrative.

"We are always looking for new ways to integrate curriculum," Erdman added. "Integrated learning experiences are powerful, allowing students to grasp the important role interrelationships play in the real world."