Ellen Ochoa Biography: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Who Is Ellen Ochoa?
  • 1:04 From NASA Researcher…
  • 1:29 Making History in Space
  • 2:25 Life on the Ground
  • 2:52 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Ellen Ochoa is the director of the Johnson Space Center and was the first Spanish-speaking woman to go into space. In this lesson, you'll learn many interesting facts about this intelligent and determined woman.

Who Is Ellen Ochoa?

Have you ever thought about the men and women who go up into space, going to the place where very few have ever gone or likely ever will go? That's something that Ellen Ochoa did. Ellen Ochoa, a famous NASA researcher, inventor, and astronaut, was born on May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, California. She had a big family and was one of five brothers and sisters. Ellen's parents divorced when she was a teenager, and she and her siblings lived with their mother. Education was important in her family, and she worked hard as a student. Ellen graduated from high school in 1975 and was even the valedictorian, which means she had the highest rank of anyone in her class!

Ellen plays the flute and thought about studying music in college. She even won an award because she is such an accomplished flute player. But she decided to study physics instead, which is the study of how matter and energy affect each other. She went on to earn a master's and doctorate degree, making her Dr. Ellen Ochoa. But she isn't the kind of doctor you see when you're sick. Her doctorate is in electrical engineering.

From NASA Researcher to Astronaut

Ellen became a successful researcher for NASA in 1988 and studied optics, which is the study of light. She's also an inventor and co-inventor of devices that work with light and optics.

But she didn't just hang out in her research lab. She also earned her pilot's license. While she was a researcher, Ellen applied to be an astronaut three times, never giving up. In 1990, she was accepted into the astronaut program.

Making History in Space

When Ellen blasted off in 1993 on a space shuttle, which are reusable space vehicles, she became the first Spanish-speaking woman ever to go into space! But that wouldn't be her only trip that was out of this world. She spent almost 1,000 hours in space on four different missions doing important jobs.

Here's a list of her accomplishments on each mission into space:

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