Mae Jemison Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Abby Federico

Abby has taught elementary special education and has her master's degree in this area.

In this lesson, you will learn about Mae Jemison. Mae was the first African-American woman in space. You will learn about her background, how she became an astronaut, her first space mission, and the honors she has received.

Who is Mae Jemison?

Have you ever had big dreams of what you want to be when you grow up? Well, Mae Jemison did and she was able to achieve them! Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to be admitted into NASA's astronaut training program, the first African-American woman to become an astronaut, and then the first African-American woman in space.

Mae was born on October 17, 1956, in Alabama, but her family moved to Illinois when she was young. As a child, she loved science and astronomy and spent a lot of time reading books on these subjects. Astronomy is the study of stars, planets, and space. Mae also loved dancing and performing in plays, and was a member of student government.

Mae's Education and Early Careers

Mae first attended Stanford University and studied chemical engineering. For this course of study, she needed to know about many types of science plus math and economics.

Mae graduated from Stanford with her degree, but she wasn't finished learning yet! She then decided that she would like to become a doctor and attended Cornell University Medical College. After being a doctor for a couple of years, Mae decided that there was another career that she had always dreamed of - becoming an astronaut.

Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut
Mae Jemison

Becoming an Astronaut

In order to be an astronaut, you have to apply to NASA's astronaut training program, which usually has thousands of applicants. NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and it is the part of the government that deals with space travel and exploration. In 1987, there were only 15 people accepted into the training program and Mae was one of them. When she completed the program in 1988, she became the first African-American female astronaut. Part of Mae's job as an astronaut was to do experiments!

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