Investigate careers and opportunities in computer science.
NASA has employed many women and people of color throughout its history. When men left to fight in World War II (1939), more women were hired, including—for the first time—African American women. Women at NASA have worked in roles such as mathematician, astronaut, engineer, and supervisor.
In 1935, there was a government agency called the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which hired the first female “human computers”. Back then, there were no real computers, so people had to do complicated calculations by hand, like figuring out the paths of spacecraft. Many African American women worked in this computing unit. Over time, they also helped create code for the first machine computers, which could do those calculations much faster and with more accuracy.
Thanks to the work of these early computer scientists, the United States was able to send its first astronaut 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
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.