Do your students know about Peggy Whitson?


Do your students know about Peggy Whitson? If not, here are a few notable things she has accomplished: the world’s oldest female in space at age 57; the first woman to command the space station twice; and on September 2nd, she became the American who has spent the longest time in space- 665 days- and more time in space than any woman worldwide.

While watching a recent morning news show, I saw a brief mention of Peggy’s latest accomplishment and it stirred something in me. I thought about all the woman who have made accomplishments in flight and space, yet their names aren’t always recognizable. I thought about Mae Jamison, whose juvenile biography I reviewed earlier this year and was fascinated by her many contributions to the space program, much of which I knew nothing about. I thought about the book Fly High! The Story of Bessie Coleman, a book about a woman I had never heard of, but whose determination led her to achieving her dream of flying at a time when others thought she could not and should not. And then, I thought about Amelia Earhart, whose name makes me turn the television a little louder when there is a story on the latest speculations on her fate. Most of our students know about Amelia, but they don’t know about all the other fascinating females who, in a time when women had lesser opportunities, chose to think outside of the box, buck the system, and do what they could humanly do to achieve their dream of escaping earth by air.

The Dream Big Dreamers- that is what I call this elite group of ladies. But Dream Big Dreamers don’t just belong in a specific month; they and their stories need to be interwoven into our daily lessons. Peggy Whitson’s return from the International Space Station could have been interwoven into a science lesson. That one lesson could have triggered a yearning for a female student to learn more about space and thus begin a new love for science. Sometimes it only takes that one story to set curiosity into flight.

Can you tell I’m big into people’s stories? Yes, I am a biography junky. You know why? It’s the fascination aspect. I am so fascinated how sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, but I am also fascinated by one’s ability to take a dream and turn it into reality. I think your students could be fascinated by this too. So, as you plan next week’s lessons, whose story can be incorporated into one of your lessons?



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