The majority of the time jobs in the STEM field are filled by men, but it is important to continue to educate all students (as potential future scientists) about women who have made a mark on history. Celebrate and remember women in STEM with your students. Learn more about Dr. Mae Jemison, an engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut who was the first African American woman to travel in space.
“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.”
– Dr. Mae Jemison
Who is Dr. Mae Jemison?
Dr. Mae Jemison is an astronaut who in 1987, became the first African American woman to travel in space. She was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. Her family moved to Chicago where she spent many hours in the library reading about science, and more specifically astronomy.
Her interest in science blossomed in school, and after graduating high school in 1973, she became a student at Stanford University with a goal of obtaining a degree in biochemical engineering. Mae then obtained her M.D. in 1981 and worked as a general practitioner and Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia while performing medical research.
In 1985, Dr. Mae Jemison applied for NASA’s astronaut training program and was eventually accepted. She was one of seven astronauts aboard the Endeavour space shuttle on mission STS47. During her time in space, she documented the effects of weightlessness and motion sickness.
Dr. Mae Jemison TED Talk video – Teaching Arts and Sciences
5 Facts About Dr. Mae Jemison
Here are 5 fun and interesting facts about Dr. Mae Jemison to share with your students.
- Jemison is passionate about dancing and almost chose to study dance instead of going to medical school.
- She went to Stanford University to get a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering when she was only 16 years old.
- Jemison was featured in an episode of one of her favorite shows “Star Trek”. She appeared as Lieutenant Palmer in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Dr. Mae Jemison has a fear of heights, but did not allow that fear to stop her from going into space.
- After resigning from NASA, Jemison founded the Jemison Group, a company that develops and markets advanced technologies.
3 Quick Group Discussion Questions
After sharing this information about Dr. Mae Jemison and her career and achievements, have students break into groups and answer the following questions before sharing their thoughts with the class.
- Dr. Mae Jemison was inspired by the reading she did at the library growing up and the show Star Trek. What inspires you to take on new challenges or learn new things?
- Women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. Why do you think this is? How can we better support interest in STEM learning for all students?
- Many argue that STEM learning should actually be called STEAM (including art alongside science, technology, math, and science). How does creativity impact our ability to do research and try new things?