Use the blog post below to enrich the Mae Jemison, Our First Black Astronaut Lesson Plan and start conversations to plant seeds that inspire change.
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Studio Sprout video lesson and paper collage project honoring Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to become an astronaut and travel to outer space. This lesson starts a conversation on diversity, inclusion, taking chances, staying encouraged and dreaming big. It fits perfectly with your lesson plan for Black History and Women’s History.
THE STORY OF MAE JEMISON, Our FIRST BLACK WOMAN ASTRONAUT
Have you ever looked up at the stars and imagined yourself going there?
That’s exactly what Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to become an astronaut and travel to outer space, did when she was a little girl.
At a very early age, Mae dreamed of going to space and seeing Earth from above as an astronaut.
She even drew pictures of stars and planets to hang on her wall.
But when Mae finally reached the stars – she did something even more brave.
She celebrated by bringing some very special items along.
You’ll learn more about the space journey as you read this post about astronaut Mae Jemison – a creative, smart and brave woman who paved the way in science and technology to become a Black leader…
…and an American hero.
CELEBRATING DIFFERENCES AND SAMENESS
Before we talk about Mae’s journey, we’re going to talk about two very important words that you should know.
Are you ready to learn them?
The two words are: Inclusion and Representation
Can you think about the last time two friends were sharing a secret, but they didn’t tell you. How did that make you feel?
Or, what if there were a Great Kid Award in your town, but you were one of the few kids who never got the award?
That’s what being excluded means – and inclusion is the opposite of that.
If you’re like most people, you might have spent some time feeling left out. It’s normal to feel this way now and then. When a friend comes along to help and cheer you on, that’s inclusion and everyone feels better.
But, when someone looks or acts differently than others, they can get left out a lot – especially if they don’t have a friend to support them.
When we try our best to be a friend who is inclusive and cheers others on, everyone feels welcome, can participate and can celebrate with us.
That makes inclusion very important and it’s an important piece of Mae Jamison’s story.
Being included feels good. Being inclusive feels even better.
Every person is unique. We come from different places, have different faces, skin color, hair, homes, experiences…. so many things that make us who we are.
Representation determines how these differences are recognized. Representation can be positive or negative.
People can become fearful of things they don’t know much about. When differences that make us unique aren’t represented enough, or when they are negatively represented, it can cause everyone to feel disconnected or unwelcome.
When differences are positively represented, they become more familiar. People start to know and understand each other better.
Standing up for positive representation can help make things fair for everyone. We learn to appreciate all the differences that make each person very special.
It takes heroes like Mae and people like you who are willing to be brave and strong. Heroes support others who may not have the same opportunities or who may not always be included or represented in a positive way.
Mae knew this, and it led her to follow her dreams. She stood up for herself and became a model for others.
Mae is an example of a changemaker.
MAE STARTS MAKING HER MARK
When Mae was a little girl, she wasn’t always supported by people around her.
Mae’s teacher even tried to convince her not to reach for the stars as a woman astronaut.
Black women were not represented in very many job fields. They were expected to choose a career that already included women.
Mae had something different in mind. She wanted to be an astronaut.
Mae remained strong and brave. With support from her family, she held onto her dreams and worked very hard.
When she was just 16 years old, Mae graduated from high school and went to Stanford University.
Before she was an astronaut, she was a doctor and a chemical engineer.
She also held a love for art and dance… but outer space remained her biggest dream.
Mae was accepted by NASA’s astronaut training program in 1987.
This was groundbreaking! There had never been a Black woman in space before. This was a step toward inclusion and representation for all, especially the Black community.
Mae was very proud.
3… 2… 1… BLASTOFF!
Just a few short years later in September 1992 Mae’s lifelong dream came true.
She traveled to space on the shuttle Endeavour and orbited the earth 126 times for 8 days, becoming the world’s first Black woman in space.
When Mae Jemison went to space, she took things with her that represented people who sometimes are not included.
The three things Mae brought with her were:
- A poster of Judith Jamison, a well-known Black dancer performing the dance “Cry”
- A Bundu Statue for the Women’s Society in West Africa
- A flag for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Oldest African American Women’s Sorority in the United States
Mae knew that taking these 3 meaningful things with her was an important thing to do. It was a unique and brave way for Mae to celebrate inclusion and positive Black representation.
ART CHALLENGE FOR YOUNG CHANGEMAKERS:
We can’t wait to see your artwork!
OUT OF THIS WORLD!
As Mae looked toward Earth from space, she spotted Chicago. She remembered being a little girl who looked up at the stars and dreamed she would go there one day… and she did just that.
Mae Jemison had many amazing accomplishments in her lifetime.
Mae was not only the first woman Black astronaut to travel into space, but she brought positive representation and inclusion with her.
That’s why we think Mae Jemison’s bravery is out of this world!
Mae proves that you can reach the dreams you set when you’re young – even in the face of adversity. She’s an inspiration to children and adults everywhere.
“My particular interest is in making sure that people know that they can be involved with not just space exploration, with science, with daring things, with helping shape what the world becomes.”
– Mae Jemison
ART TECHNIQUES FOR KIDS
Lesson Plan Takeaways: Black History, Women’s History
- How to Create a Galaxy Background Using a Mess-Free Splatter Painting Technique
- Crafting a Collage with Construction Paper
- Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Draw a Space Shuttle
- How to Draw, Make and Cut Symmetrical Shapes
- How to Choose Color Combinations
- How to Draw Fire to Create a Jet-Blast Explosion for the Rocket
- How to Safely Use Scissors to Cut Detailed Shapes
- How to Create Texture and Character for Your Space Shuttle
- An Easy Way to Draw a 5-Pointed Star
- Using Oil Pastels to Blend Colors, Add Detail and Create Texture
- How to Draw People and Face Shapes
- How to Use Diversity in Your Art with Skin Color and Natural Curly Hair
- How to Draw a Space Suit and Space Helmet
- How to Create Layering Techniques with Construction Paper
FIVE FACTS ABOUT MAE JEMISON
- Since she was a little girl Mae Jemison dreamed of going to space and seeing Earth from above as an astronaut.
- Mae graduated from High School and went to Stanford University at the age of sixteen.
- Before she was an astronaut, Mae Jemison was a doctor, a chemical engineer, and had a lifelong love of art and dance.
- Mae Jemison was accepted by NASA’s training program in 1987 and became the first Black woman astronaut.
- In September 1992 Mae’s dream became true and she traveled to space on the shuttle Endeavour and orbited the earth 126 times for 8 days becoming the world’s first Black woman in space.
Written by Roda Ahmen, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
Hear from Mae Jemison Herself: Watch Mae’s Video
OUT OF THIS WORLD ART
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