Free Lesson

Coding Your Way to a Computer Science Career

Investigate careers and opportunities in computer science.

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Grade Level 3-8


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Explore the role of women and people of color in computer science

When men left to fight in World War II (1939-1945), women (including, for the first time, African American women) were hired for jobs typically reserved for men, including “human computers.” These individuals completed intricate calculations manually. A government agency called the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)—now known as NASA—hired hundreds of female human computers to figure out complicated calculations like paths of a spacecraft. Over time, these women helped create code for the first machine computers, which could do the same calculations faster and more accurately. Thanks to the work of these early computer scientists, the United States was able to send its first astronauts into orbit and eventually reach the Moon.

Expand your science unit with our interactive Computer Science Career extension lesson. Students will discover how women and people of color at NASA used their computer skills to make a big impact, and practice basic computer programming by creating their own path toward a career in computer science.

Then, integrate our post-lesson language arts/writing, career exploration, and research activities.

While this lesson primarily focuses on engineering themes, it also integrates Earth and space science topics. This lesson and corresponding activities are designed to be used in both formal and informal education settings.

  • Become familiar with the women who shaped history at NASA

  • Become familiar with coding and what it is/does for NASA

  • Learn about career paths to work in computer science

  • Enhance scientific vocabulary

  • Approximate program time: 45 minutes

  • Pre- and post-lesson activities available

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned

  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned

In Partnership

Artemis World extension lessons are based upon work in partnership with Minecraft Education and NASA. Any opinions, findings, conclusions and/or recommendations expressed in this material are those of Challenger Center and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minecraft Education and/or NASA.