"When Computers Wore Skirts:" Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and the "West Computers"

Melba Roy Mouton, a computer at NASA Langley, 1960

Objective: In this lesson plan, students will learn about the “West Computers” or “West Area Computers”—a group of African-American women who worked as “human computers” at NASA Langley Research Center from the 1940s onward. They will also learn about two women in particular—Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden—who started working at NASA as computers and made significant contributions to NASA.

Photo: Melba Roy Mouton, a computer at NASA Langley, in 1960. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Grade Level: 9–12

In-class Time: 90 minutes

Prep Time: 15–20 minutes

 

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