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.
Students will learn about the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement and how it impacted the physics community by reading two contrasting assessments of the status of African Americans in physics in the 1960s.
Students will learn about African Americans involved in astronomy and astrophysics, from the 1700s when astronomy was used as a practical tool to the twentieth century space race, using primary and secondary documents.
Students are introduced to Ben Barres: an accomplished neurobiologist, openly transgender scientist, and activist for gender equity in STEM. This lesson also allows students to explore projects investigating LGBTQ+ experiences in science, technology, and medicine careers.