Resources for Hidden Figures

I'm excited to see Hidden Figures, the new movie based upon the true stories of NASA's early African American 'computers,' a job title that applied to humans long before it did to machines. The movie opens nationwide this Friday.

I've been enamored with space and space exploration since I was young, and as I've grown older I've enjoyed learning more about NASA's history through documentary projects like When We Left Earth. Astronauts have long gotten the bulk of the attention in these stories, with occasional glimpses of behind-the-scenes engineering work like we saw in Apollo 13. Hidden Figures tells a story that very few seem to have heard, and as a fan of NASA, a mathematician, and an educator, I'm excited about the potential for this film (and the book it's based upon) to educate and inspire students to pursue opportunities in math and science — especially female students of color. Rafranz Davis explains why.

John Burk, a physics and math teacher in Delaware, said "Lets Start a Movement for Hidden Figures." Count me as on board. His idea includes things like a teacher's reference guide, contests, and organized discussions. That sounds like a good start, and I'll be thinking about this as I read the book this week and see the movie this weekend. Simply getting students to the theater seems like an obvious Step #1, whether it's through encouraging them to attend on their own or with their families, or organizing it as a class or school outing.
Below I've curated some resources related to the book and the film. I can't say that much of this is lesson-ready, but there's plenty here to fuel the curiosity of students who want to know more about this story. If you find or create additional resources, or want to share your ideas about promoting the film to your students, feel free to mention it in the comments or let me know on social media.



Official Sites


Updates to Original Post:

  • 1/8/17: Added "Who is Katherine Johnson?" to resources
  • 1/8/17: Added "Hidden Figures: The Female Mathematicians of NACA and NASA" to resources
  • 1/8/17: Added "NASA Modern Figures Toolkit" to resources
  • 2/11/17: Added Max Ray-Riek's lesson plan to resources
  • 2/11/17: Added Journeys in Film discussion guide to resources
  • 2/11/17: Added Denise Gaskins' teaching resources