Katherine Johnson
Katherine has a great sense of navigation, which allows her to know where people and things are.
Get to know
A mathematical whizz kid, Katherine grew up in West Virginia. Her greatest skill has proven to be her ability to find people and objects no matter where they are. A strong and inspirational leader she worked tirelessly to save the world in any way she could.
SCIENCE SUPERHERO IDENTITY
In this fact-file find out why we turned Katherine into a Superhero
Katherine Johnson was born in West Virginia in 1918.
Orbital mechanics uses observations and theories to examine the Earth's elliptical orbit, its tilt, and how it spins. Katherine's calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first U.S. crewed spaceflight.
Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel into space.
TOP QUARKZ CARD EXPLAINED
Any type of Metal shield can stop Katherine from using her powers.
Born: 1918
Died: 2020
Occupation: Mathematician
Creola Katherine Johnson
TRUE IDENTITY
Katherine was advanced for her age and at age ten she was ready to enter high school. She excelled in mathematics and became very interested in astronomy. After attending West Virginia State College she went on to teach until 1953 when Katherine applied for a position at NACA (now NASA). Katherine helped to calculate the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon.
Katherine was born as Creola Katherine Coleman in West Virginia.
Katherine Johnson
Like what you do, and then you will do your best.
Video Credit: NASA
WHAT'S A MATHEMATICIAN?
A mathematician is someone who uses their knowledge of mathematics to solve mathematical problems.

Mathematics is concerned with numbers, data, quantity, structure, space, models, and change. Mathematics includes the study of such topics as algebra and geometry.
Video credit: SimplyInfo
Apollo 11 landed in the wrong place! Apollo 11 didn't touch down at its intended landing site.
The mobile phone in your pocket is more powerful than Apollo 11's computers.
This great little video explains the basic space travel visually, without any math or difficult terminology.
What is Orbital Mechanics?
DID YOU KNOW ?
Katherine calculated the launch window for the 1961 Mercury mission. find out more about Project Mercury in this SciShow video.
What was the Mercury Mission?
Video credit: Exploring Space
Video credit SciShow Space
Katherine also helped to calculate the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. Watch the historic NASA footage of the Apollo 11 Moonwalk.
Want to watch the 1969 Moonwalk?
Video credit: NASA
NASA hadn't fully worked out all the challenges the astronauts might face when attempting to go to the bathroom.
The first Mercury "astronaut" was a monkey . On 4 December 1959, a monkey flew to a height of 85 kilometres (53 miles).
Fun Facts on Project Mercury and Apollo 11
ACTIVITY
MAKE YOUR OWN HOVER CRAFT
STEP 1: Poke several holes in the plastic soda bottle top with the thumbtack.

STEP 2: Ask an adult to use the glue gun to glue the edge of the bottle top to the center of the CD, right over the hole. Make sure it's secure.

STEP 3: Blow up the balloon. Twist the neck of the balloon to keep it inflated and pull the lip of the balloon over the edge of the bottle cap.

STEP 4:
Let it go!
What you will need
  • An old CD
  • Thumbtack
  • Glue gun
  • Plastic Soda Bottle top
  • 1 Balloon
Download a pdf of the activity here
As the balloon deflates the force of the air pushes through the holes in the bottle top and against the surface of the CD. This creates a cushion on air over which the CD glides freely.
Want to discover more? Dive into the world of our science superheroes
Katherine features in our card game: Top Quarkz
Discover our free educational resources and activities
Counting on Katherine - by Helaine Becker & Dow Phumiruk
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