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Black History Month, Katherine Johnson – “Hidden Figures”

With the release and popularity of the movie “Hidden Figures” and this being Black History month, I thought that copying a post written by guest blogger Yahteebutterfly would be appropriate.

By Guest Blogger Yahtzeebutterfly

Katherine Johnson, the African American mathematician who calculated the trajectory of NASA’s first manned spacecraft was born on  August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Her father, a farmer and logger who only had a sixth grade education, was a whiz at math.  In an interview with Cathy Lewis of WHROTV, Dr. Johnson recalled that her father could listen to a difficult math word-problem and immediately have the answer and that he could determine the number of board feet he could get from a tree just by looking at it. When it came time for high school and college for his four children he began working at a hotel and had extra jobs to support the studies of his four children.

Watching her three siblings enter elementary school before she did, Katherine could hardly wait to attend school.  She loved learning and had a special fascination for numbers.  She loved counting everything around her, even the number of steps she walked on her way to church. When she finally did attend school, she was such an outstanding student that she was skipped to second grade, and by the time she was 10, she entered high school where mathematician Angie King recognized her mathematical talent and mentored her during those four years.   Read the rest of this entry

Happy Birthday Katherine Johnson

By Guest Blogger Yahtzeebutterfly

 

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Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson, the African American mathematician who calculated the trajectory of NASA’s first manned spacecraft was born on this day, August 26th, in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

 Her father, a farmer and logger who only had a sixth grade education, was a whiz at math.  In an interview with Cathy Lewis of WHROTV, Dr. Johnson recalled that her father could listen to a difficult math word-problem and immediately have the answer and that he could determine the number of board feet he could get from a tree just by looking at it. When it came time for high school and college for his four children he began working at a hotel and had extra jobs to support the studies of his four children.

Watching her three siblings enter elementary school before she did, Katherine could hardly wait to attend school.  She loved learning and had a special fascination for numbers.  She loved counting everything around her, even the number of steps she walked on her way to church. When she finally did attend school, she was such an outstanding student that she was skipped to second grade, and by the time she was 10, she entered high school where mathematician Angie King recognized her mathematical talent and mentored her during those four years.   Read the rest of this entry

Shuttle Challenger, January 28, 1986

Space Shuttle Pass

For those that don’t recognize this, this was an Air Force vehicle pass. It took you to a great viewing area just south of the launch pads. To me, they were better than the NASA vehicle passes and we were definitely closer, only the VIP viewing area was closer. This was the last time the Air Force would issue vehicle passes, the day was January 28, 1986 and it was for the launch of the shuttle Challenger. It was the 25th shuttle launch and the first from LC-38B.  It would also be the first loss of a shuttle.

I would get these passes from my father who worked for Martin Marietta.  When I got these passes I would walk along US-1 and try to find people who came the greatest distance and convince them I wasn’t a serial killer and take them along with me to view a launch up close. I’ve taken people from Alaska, Canada, and Germany and many states in-between. That morning though, I didn’t want to find anyone. Maybe it was the cold or maybe it was something else but for some reason I didn’t want to take anyone with me and that was a first. I’m glad I didn’t.

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