Mae Jemison

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Mae Jemison


Astronaut, Doctor, Scientist & Teacher
(Oct. 17, 1956 – Present)



Reading Grade Level:

1st – 2nd

3rd – 4th

5th & up


Mae C. Jemison is a scientist, doctor, teacher, and first African American female astronaut. Mae flew on a space shuttle named Endeavour and became the first African American woman to enter space! This was a big deal because it showed young women of her time that they too could be interested in science and accomplish their dreams just as she did.

Mae was born on October 17, about 60 years ago in Alabama. Her mother worked as an elementary school teacher and her father was a carpenter and roofer. She also had one brother and sister. Her parents believed it was very important for her and her siblings to attend a good school, so they moved to Chicago Illinois when Mae was 3 years old to find one. While in school she became very interested in science. She would spend many hours in the library reading about science. Her favorite thing about science was to learn about the moon, stars, and outer space. Her parents were very supportive of her becoming a scientist. Jemison said, “My parents were the best scientists I knew because they were always asking questions.” By the time she was in high school, she was confident she wanted to study something in the science field. She went to college at Stanford University at the young age of 16 where she earned two degrees. She loved to learn so much that even after college, she went to medical school so she could become a doctor! That is a lot of school! After being a doctor for some time, Mae decided to do something she always dreamed of doing which was to become an astronaut! She decided to apply to NASA’s astronaut training program and was one of only 15 people to get accepted.

Mae was the first African American woman to ever get into NASA’s astronaut training program. Not only that, but after more than a year of training, she was the first African American woman astronaut. While on the space shuttle, she was in charge of crew related experiments. For example, one experiment was about what it was like for the crew members to feel like they had no weight because there is no gravity in space. Mae left for space on space shuttle Endeavor on September 12, 1992, with 6 other astronauts. She was gone for a total of eight days. Mae C. Jemison did a lot of meaningful work for NASA while in space and when she returned, she knew it was important to include people of all backgrounds in science.  Mae decided to leave NASA in 1993, and teach at a local college. She also started her own company named Jemison group. The goal of her company is to get students excited and interested in science and bring advanced technology around the world.

Mae received many awards from many different groups for all of her hard work in space and on the ground. She even had a school named after her in Detroit, Michigan! Mae is a role model for boys and girls because she shows you can accomplish anything you work hard at and put your mind to, even going to space!

(Learn how dance influenced Mae Jemison as an Astronaut!)


Reflection Question

Mae has many interests, she is an astronaut, scientist, and doctor. What are three jobs you would love to have?