Hidden Figures & STEM Role Models

February 14, 2017

By now, most people know about Hidden Figures, the movie about the untold story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who served as the computational power behind the early days of NASA and the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. These women crossed gender and color boundaries to help propel the United States to the front of the space race.

Recognizing the importance and the power of this movie to empower and entertain, Thomson Reuters leaders invited young women from Valley Middle School, Friendship Academy, and CDF Freedom School to attend a private screening of the movie. The students were joined by Thomson Reuters’ women technologists and leaders, and by Kasey Herzberg, Executive Director of the Challenger Learning Center of Minnesota.

Before the movie, Kasey inspired the students by speaking about her path to a career in aerospace engineering and about her efforts to bring a Challenger Learning Center to Minnesota. With 45 centers around the globe, Challenger Center is a worldwide organization that continues the education mission of the space shuttle Challenger crew.  Through a team based, NASA-style mission experience, students see classroom lessons brought to life in an engaging and dynamic simulated learning environment. Challenger Centers’ purpose is to inspire and excite students about STEM subjects and careers and energize whole new generation of scientists, engineers and leaders. Kasey aims to bring this truly unique and engaging experience to the youth of Minnesota. www.challengermn.org

“The girls were paying rapt attention to Kasey while she told them about her inspiration to go into a STEM career,” noted Brenda Peick, Technology Portfolio Manager at Thomson Reuters. “They were able to see role models in the movie and around them. Seeing and hearing from women in technology is inspiring.”

STEM opportunities like the Challenger Learning Center of Minnesota have the power to inspire women of all ages to believe in themselves and to follow their dreams to become programmers, scientists, and engineers. Hidden Figures provides them with an opportunity to hear how these smart, brave, beautiful and successful African-American women helped change the world.