Hidden Figures

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Equity, High School, Middle School | No Comments

Submitted by
Lesa Clarkson
Associate Professor Mathematics Education, University of Minnesota
MCTM Equity Task Force Co-Chair
and
Barb Everhart
Math Consultant, Anoka Middle School for the Arts, Anoka Regional HS
MCTM Equity Task Force Co-Chair

The movie, Hidden Figures, is currently the number one movie in the country! Here are ways to include it with your math courses:

  • Take your students to see the movie! Pictured below are 275 middle school students from Minneapolis enjoying the movie (organized by Lesa Clarkson)! A panel of African American females in science, technology, engineering and mathematics spoke with the students. Noteworthy, Dr. Dutchess Harris, granddaughter of one of the original eleven “computers” joined the panel.   (Picture courtesy of Cameron Clarkson, SoComCreative)
  • Talk about the math in the movie. In the first minutes of the movie, solving a quadratic equation is demonstrated. Later in the movie, parabolas and ellipses are discussed when describing the path of the orbiting capsule.
  • Celebrate the grunt work of working through computations. Often, the “computers” are seen performing calculations by hand.
  • Introduce your students to diverse mathematics or STEM professionals from multiple ethnic backgrounds. The movie exaggerates the stereotype of what a mathematician looks like. These women mathematicians were unusual for that era but still we see few women of color in mathematics and other STEM fields.
  • Here is a tweet from Annie Perkins as well: https://arbitrarilyclose.com/2017/01/06/hidden-figures-info-for-teachers/

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