The PS 107 Diversity Committee works to promote greater awareness of and respect for diversity within our school community. Our next school-wide project coincides with Black History and Women’s History Months, and will be the second of three school-wide activities to earn our No Place for Hate designation from the Anti-Defamation League for the 2017-2018 school year.
We will be distributing to all classrooms the recently published children’s picture book adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly’s bestseller, Hidden Figures, about the lesser known African American female mathematicians and engineers who worked for NASA in the 1950s and 1960s and helped launch men into space. As some of you may know, Hidden Figures brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Goble Johnson, and Christine Darden – four African American women who lived through the Civil Rights movement, the movement for gender equality, the Cold War, and participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they persisted and used their genius minds to help change the world.
A second book will also be shared in class: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison, featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history and their true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Included in the book are abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.
In addition to the books, each class will receive posters of diverse women in STEM from www.beyondcurie.com. Each poster features a renowned female scientist, engineer, mathematician, or astronaut with a brief profile. We hope that students will find among these biographies heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things to make the world better for generations to come.
After the readings and teacher-led discussions, students will do the following three activities:
- Draw a pilot, firefighter, a surgeon. Then watch the video “Redraw the Balance”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv8VZVP5csA
Students may be surprised…
- Watch a 5-minute interview with Katherine Johnson (www.makers.com/katherine-g-johnson) as she talks about her love of math, how she was encouraged to take advanced math classes, and ultimately how she ended up working for NASA. Students can write about what they're good at or love to do and how it's important in their lives (drawing, sports, animals, etc.), or write about a "hidden figure" that they know (someone who does great things, but people on the outside don't know about) - i.e., mom, sister, grandmother, friend, teacher, etc.
- Research and learn about other men and women of color who broke barriers of racial and gender discrimination and stereotypes in STEM and other fields (e.g., Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Mae Jemison, Sammy Lee, etc.).
Please do not hesitate to contact the Diversity Committee with any comments or questions about this current and past initiatives. We welcome your feedback!