Identification and Evaluation SourcesThis investigation assesses to what extent did Katherine Johnson play a significant role in shaping NASA’s future. In order to understand how Mrs. Johnson’s life played a huge part in impacting NASA’s future, research have to be done to investigate; Mrs.
Johnson’s life as a child; Mrs. Johnson’s life prior to working for NASA, and Mrs. Johnson’s life while working for NASA. The main sources of this investigation are National Visionary Leadership Project’s (NVLP) oral account “Kathrine Johnson National Visionary” recorded March 8, 2010 and “Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM” written by Wild, Flint. The origin of the first source is an interview of Katherine Johnson, an African American woman, who changed NASA’s history and perspective on the world. The setting both sources took place were West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
during 1918 – 1986. Furthermore, the value of this source is that Mrs. Katherine Johnson is giving us a first hand account of her life, there is no one more capable of explain to us how math was a key component in her life. The time period in which her life took place was at the end of WWI until 32 years post the end of segregation. Thus, stating the Katherine Johnson was able to cause a change NASA’s history even when she was outcasted by her colleges due to her pigmentation. Furthermore, the purpose of this source presented by NVLP is credible because it is a reminiscence account of Katherine G.
Johnson’s entire life, showing how one person can make a great change in big ways, thus making the source a primary source. The limitations are little to none because bias and lack of reliability and verification are not found in this source due to the fact that Katherine is speaking about her own life’s account which is recorded and shown to the public. However, NVLP may be biased towards Katherine G. Johnson because the type of individuals the organization focuses on generating are a stronger youth by only sharing stories of unexpected African American elders relating to social change. The origin of the second source is a memorial of Katherine Johnson, and how she personally changed NASA’s look on the African American community as well as its history. The editor of this source is Wild, Flint a senior education editor for NASA.
gov and social media manager for NASA education. The value of this source shows that the editor’s perspective of said source is very pro Katherine Johnson. He then goes on to say that she lead NASA into a new era in which it is grateful, while writing great things about her life; showing signs of bias. Furthermore, the purpose of this source presented by NASA’s senior editor is relevant because it is a written account of Katherine G. Johnson’s entire life, showing how one person was able to change the views of many by being the best version of themselves they can be.
The memorial was written by a current NASA editor, thus making the source a secondary source. The intended audiences for NASA’s work are worldwide readers seeking great stories and the truth about NASA’s history. The limitations found in this source were how to verify how the information presented is in fact true. However, the information is true because NASA was Katherine Johnson’s employer, thus they should have documentation and records of Mrs.
Johnson’s time in NASA. Another limitation found is Mr. Flint Wilds bias towards Mrs. Katherine. He is bias towards Mrs. Johnson, thus some information may be idolizing Mrs. Johnson. InvestigationBetween 1953 and 1986, Mrs.
Johnson pushed to her limits in mathematics when she was given the task of calculating unknown trajectories and orbital calculations to propel space capsules into orbit around the moon (Wild) during her time in NASA which was only possible due to her vast love for mathematics. “August 26, 1918 Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson was born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia… at a very young age, Katherine, youngest of four, showed signs of being a math prodigy” (NVLP). NVLP communicates that when Mrs. Johnson was young; she not only enjoyed mathematics but excelled greatly. Showing signs of intellect in the subject was the beginning of Mrs.
Johnson’s path to not only loving mathematics, but being able to use her love for mathematics as a cause for her to change NASA’s history. “She says she counted everything. ‘I counted the steps. I counted the plates that I washed'” (NVLP). NVLP goes on to give us quotes directly from Mrs. Johnson herself talking about how mathematics played a big role in her everyday life and her delight in said subject. Although, Mrs. Johnson’s parents did not attend college they strongly believed in education for Katherine and her older siblings.
“Katherine’s high school was part of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute (formerly the West Virginia Colored Institute). During the academic year, Mr. Coleman worked in White Sulphur Springs, while his wife and children resided near the school in Institute, West Virginia” (NVLP). NVLP expressions that Mr. Coleman’s persistence in making sure his children were well educated helped Mrs.
Johnson better herself in her academics propelling her forward ahead of her classmates by many years. However, she need not require any drive from her father to attend school for the reason that Mrs. Johnson was able to graduate high school at the age of 15 due to her love for education in general. Subsequently Mrs. Johnson went on to attend “West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University) she come across an applied faculty. One particularly involved professor was Dr.
William W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, who was determined to prepare Johnson to become a research mathematician”(NASA). NASA articulates that Dr. Claytor dedicated time out of his life to educate Mrs. Johnson in a more in-depth mathematical study, perhaps to instruct her in a field of mathematics where she may perhaps find a job in.
At age 18, she “graduated from college, during the time when the United States was still segregated. During this time, ‘segregation’ meant that different races were separated from each other in many places and activities” (NASA). Thus Mrs.
Johnson was not able to find a job that challenged her in the field she graduated in; therefore, she went on to teach in schools elementary students due to the lack of well-established jobs for the African American population. “In 1939, Katherine married James Francis Goble and started a family then resigned from teaching… Her husband fell ill in what would become a prolonged fight with a brain tumor. To help support her family, Katherine quit school, which she had been earlier invited to join by her alma mater and returned to teaching, later on remarrying Lt. Colonel James A.
Johnson after the passing of Mr. Coleman” (NVLP). NVLP takes account of Mrs. Johnson’s hard life of being a widowed mother with three kids having to support them and her, even though it did not hinder her from becoming a big inspiration to many people through her life work. Katherine’s extended family, during her hard times, informed her of the Langley job opportunity open in NASA for female computers and after applying twice was accepted into the NASA Langley’s human computer subdivision in 1953 (NVLP). Her new found job requires Mrs. Johnson’s full attitude in mathematics, and with the love of said subject her work came easy to her. “Her specialty was calculating the trajectories for space shots which determined the timing for launches.
‘I’d ask (another section at NASA), ‘Where do you want (the astronauts) to come down?’ And they’d tell me the spot and I’d work backward from there'” (NVLP). Mrs. Johnson’s love for mathematics has always been with her even at a young age and now has come to the point where she not only needs to apply her knowledge but to be in love with it to the point of perfect due to the safety of human lives being a stake. Thus why NVLP goes deeper into informing us on the tasking job Mrs. Johnson had when working at NASA due to the fact that her work cause a great influence in NASA’s history as well as perspective on her African American “computer” colleges. One of her early accomplishments was calculating the trajectory of gravitational pulls needed for sending a man into orbit around Earth, then giving the “go” to propel John Glenn into successful orbit in 1962. “As the work grew more complex, Katherine was tasked with calculations to propel space capsules into orbit around the moon and to send landing units to and from the lunar surface” (NVLP). Mrs.
Johnson’s greatest accomplishment was being able to calculate and propel space capsules, with Neil Armstrong in it, into orbit around the moon and to send landing units to and from the lunar surface. These great accomplishments recorded in NASA’s history show that they were able to successfully launch a man into space, to the moon and back safely; however, this success was caused by a person who not only studied aeronautics but dedicated their entire life the study and the love mathematics. Mrs. Johnson was the only person in her African American subdivision as well as her NASA’s Lunar Spacecraft and Operations team that was able to calculate these trajectory for both Glen and Armstrong’s launch because years of mathematics is all that really flowed in her mind and mathematics was always reliable to Mrs. Johnson. Age 68 Katherine G. Johnson retired from NASA in 1986 receiving the Group Achievement Award presented to NASA’s Lunar Spacecraft and Operations team for her great work during her time in NASA (NVLP).
NVLP goes on to show that due to Mrs. Johnson’s appreciation and love for mathematics she was able to accomplish great works as well as get due recognition for her work. At 87 years old, Katherine delights in speaking to youngsters about her career. “She says, ‘Luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity. If you’re prepared and the opportunity comes up, it’s your good fortune to have been in the right place at the right time and to have been prepared for the job'” (NVLP). NVLP leaves us with an account of how Mrs.
Johnson goes on to changing more lives mentioning how her love of math and her great achievements at school went on to prepare her for her job at NASA; managing to outshine her peers, both white and black, and making a change in the NASA community showing them that women of color are just as dependable anyone else. It therefore seems that Mrs. Johnson’s love for mathematics did in fact become the main cause of her accomplishments as well as her impact on NASA, thus creating a potential groundbreaking period where African American women were no longer seen as inferior to other workers in NASA.