Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: Astronaut, Innovator, Educator

My daughter recently renewed her interest in science during her 8th grade class study of space and the universe.  While looking online to find articles and videos that I thought may augment her learning, I came across today’s Wednesday's Woman.  She is also featured in the January/February issue of New Moon Girls, my favorite periodical devoted to and written for tween girls.

This week's Wednesday's Woman is inspired by nature, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  She graduated from Stanford in 1977 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and fulfilled requirements for a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies.  In 1981 she obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell Medical College and later joined the Peace Corps.  The flight of Sally Ride in 1983 prompted her to apply to NASA.  After being accepted she worked in launch support and verification of Shuttle computer software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory.  When Space Shuttle Endeavour launched into orbit in 1992, she became the first African-American woman to orbit the earth.

Who was the first African-American woman to travel into outer space?  Dr. Mae Jemison.

Because of her love of dance and as a salute to creativity, Jemison took a poster from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company along with her on the flight. "Many people do not see a connection between science and dance, but I consider them both to be expressions of the boundless creativity that people have to share with one another." Jemison also took several small art objects from West African countries to symbolize that space belongs to all nations. (Wikipedia)

Dr. Mae Jemison continues her inspiring work today creating and working with the Jemison Group  supporting learning, research, and uniting the arts and sciences.  Her list of current projects of current projects include The Earth We Share (TEWS) international science camp programs; the Dorothy Jemison Foundation of Excellence (DJF), established to honor and implement teaching principals inspired by her late mother, a teacher in Chicago Public Schools; the innovative medical device company, BioSentient; and TEWS

Science literacy is crucial to the well-being of societies and countries around the world. Every day technology becomes more significant in shaping the world’s economy, our homes, cultures and relationships.  The future prosperity of nations around the world is intimately intertwined via advancing information, transportation, and agricultural technologies and the environment.   The Earth We Share (TEWS) engages students and teachers from around the world in meeting these vital challenges.

More information about Dr. Mae Jemison’s current projects can be found on her website which offers an interactive timeline highlighting her career; educational areas designed for children, teens, and teachers;  and a Laboratory where fresh ideas are explored.  Dr. Jemison gave a brilliant TED Talk in 2002 wherein she proposed that arts and sciences should not be thought of as separate entities, but should be thought of as fields of study that cannot exist  without each other:

What I'm very concerned about is how do we bolster our self-awareness as humans, as biological organisms? Michael Moschen spoke of having to teach and learn how to feel with my eyes, to see with my hands. We have all kinds of possibilities to use our senses by, and that's what we have to do. . . my personal design issue for the future is really about integrating, to think about that intuitive and that analytical. The arts and sciences are not separate.

If you are looking for someone who can inspire your daughter to be fearless in her endeavors, point her in the direction of astronaut, educator, artist, and innovator--today's Wednesday's Woman:

  Dr. Mae Jemison  

{Each week I feature an inspiring woman.  If you know of someone to be featured, please let me know!  Last week, in accord with Digital Learning Day, Wednesday's Woman highlighted two stand-outs in the field of Educational Technology, Kathy Schrock and Judy O'Connell.}

photo credit: JenniferHuber via photopin cc
photo credit: Julie in theory via photopin cc

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