Lesson plan

Who Is Mae Jemison?

Mae Jemison was the first African American female astronaut to enter space! Use the Who Is Mae Jemison? lesson plan to get to know this prominent scientist and entrepreneur. Students will read about Mae and then answer questions about her.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to learn about Mae Jemison and answer questions about what they have read.

(7 minutes)
  • Ask your students, "How do we know what details are important to remember about a person?"
  • Jot some of their ideas down on the board. Student ideas will vary, but latch onto the concept that their importance depends what this person has done or said, and what influence he or she has had on others. Define influence as the ability to change someone's mind or actions. Possible follow-up questions could be:
    • "Why do we remember people?"
    • "Who are some people you like to remember?"
    • "Why would you read a book about someone?"
  • Explain that today we are going to read a biography, or a text about a person that usually includes important dates and events in that person's life.
  • Tell students they will learn more about the first African American female astronaut to enter into space, then answer questions about her life.
(15 minutes)
  • Show photos of Mae Jemison in space using the photo link in the materials section.
  • Discuss with students what they see in the pictures. Allow them to guess where Mae is and what she is in. (Answer: a space shuttle.)
  • Share a little information about Mae Jemison. Tell students that Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to enter space. She is a doctor, researcher, and dancer. After becoming a doctor, she joined the Peace Corps and served in Africa. Later, she joined NASA and became a crew member of the space shuttle Endeavour. After her travels in space, she left NASA to start companies and continue researching how to get to a new star.
  • Review the teacher copy of the text in The Star, Mae Jemison worksheet.
  • Ask for student volunteers to state the main idea of the section as you read. Remind them that the headings are text features that offer useful clues about the main idea. Write their main ideas in each section on your teacher copy.
(11 minutes)
  • Distribute a copy of the Introducing Mae Jemison, the Star worksheet.
  • Display the Biography Research worksheet and distribute a copy to each student.
  • Review the directions and give students five minutes to complete as much as they can with a partner.
  • Choose volunteers to share their answers to the Biography Research worksheet. Encourage learners to adjust their answers if necessary, with help from their peers.
  • Focus more time on student answers to the last question, "How [has Mae] influenced others or changed the world?"
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students to re-read the text Introducing Mae Jemison, the Star with a partner or a group, where they alternate reading paragraphs or sections.
  • Bring the class back together and read through the questions in Introducing Mae Jemison, the Star worksheet.
  • Ask students to complete the questions about Mae Jemison on their own, using the text for help in finding the answers.


  • Allow struggling readers to use the worksheet Who Is Mae Jemison? for their choral reading in groups. This may be helpful for second graders.
  • Have students draw a picture of the main ideas after every paragraph or heading they read.


  • Ask students to write a paragraph about why they think Mae Jemison is someone worth reading about. Have them focus on the challenges she overcame and the accomplishments she achieved throughout her life.
(12 minutes)
  • Review answers to the questions in Introducing Mae Jemison, the Star worksheet.
  • Circle back to the question from the introduction section: "How do we know what details are important to remember about a person?" Review students' answers and see if they can list three of the most important things to remember about Mae. (These may include accomplishments, ways she inspired people or changed their way of thinking, and more.)
  • Have students read back through Introducing Mae Jemison, the Star and highlight information that they think is important for remembering Mae Jemison.
(5 minutes)
  • Refer back to student ideas about Mae from the beginning of the lesson. Which ideas were correct, and which need a correction?
  • Ask students: "Is there anything else you want to know about Mae Jemison? Is Mae a person worth reading about and getting to know? Why or why not?"
  • Have students brainstorm other people who have made changes or influenced others in the past. Use their list to inspire future lessons or research.

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