One of the Black Woman Mathematicians Who Worked with NASA on the Space Race
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is one of the most important pioneers from the American space movement. She is a physicist and a research mathematician who has calculated orbits and trajectories for historic space missions. This includes the first flight to walk on the moon. In addition, she has assisted in developing navigation systems to guide astronauts through space. Without perseverance, her career may have never left the ground. A combination of her own determination to pursue her dreams and her father's push to keep his children in school helped her to overcome gender and race discrimination, leading to an exceptional life filled with professional acclamations and personal fulfillment.
Katherine Coleman was born as the youngest child of four in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on August 26, 1918. Her father, Joshua, was a farmer who was employed as a janitor for extra work. Her mother, Joylette, worked as a teacher in the local community. As a young child, Katherine demonstrated early signs of being a math prodigy, counting everything from the number of steps between home and church, to the number of dishes that she had to wash. She believes that her affinity for numbers was passed down from her father, who used to divide trees by the pieces of lumber that could be sourced. One of Katherine's favorite childhood stories talks about how her father had a knack of solving arithmetic problems that stumped many of her teachers.
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