With over $225 million in global box office earnings, “Hidden Figures” has undoubtedly been a popular success. Its subject is a previously unheralded group of women whose brilliance and dedication provided a foundation for the space program – the black women known as “human computers” who worked at the NASA Center in Langley, Virginia. Faced with obstacles to their own education and job prospects because of race and gender, these women succeeded and earned respect in a workplace dominated by male supervisors and colleagues, and marked by segregated facilities, from office to restroom that reflected life in the pre-civil rights era. Their lives modeled vital lessons in confidence, structural equity, and academic excellence that apply to all students today.
As a result, Journeys in Film will harness the power of the film to create an educational program that dramatically improves related teaching and learning outcomes. “Hidden Figures” is ideally suited for use in the classroom, but teachers want students to do more with a film than passively view it. And so Journeys in Film has prepared eight comprehensive, standards-aligned lesson plans for secondary students. These interdisciplinary lessons can be used independently or through a team approach that gives students multiple lenses through which to consider the relevant historical and contemporary issues raised by the film.
For social studies classes, the first few lessons in this guide explore the context in which the events of “Hidden Figures” occur: the increasing animosity between Communist nations and the West, the pressure-filled milieu in which the women at Langley were working, the vital role served by the “human computers” in the space program, the costs of segregation, and the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.
Math and science lessons explore scientific notation, conic sections, orbits, and programming, and additional lessons analyze the film for theme and style.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will provide a complimentary DVD copy of the film to U.S. high schools. Teachers are encouraged to visit www.foxconnect.com/hiddenfiguresdvd for details on eligibility and how to redeem for a free DVD copy.
Download curriculum guide free of charge: journeysinfilm.org/films/hidden-figures.