education

Hidden Figures: A Parents’ Guide

Hidden Figures tells the story of Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) all three women were Computers (people who did computations before electronic computers were used) at Langley NASA.  It is based on a true story – all three of the women were brilliant mathematicians who made great advancements for NASA in mathematics, engineering, and computer programming.

If your kid (especially your daughter!) can pay attention during a dialogue-heavy movie, I highly recommend taking them.  I consider myself a space enthusiast, and I had no idea that the “West Computers” (NASA’s term for the women-of-color Computers who were segregated and worked on the west side of Langley’s campus) existed, let alone their amazing contributions to space and aeronautics science.

To fully appreciate many of the plot points, your child should be familiar with the United States Civil Rights Movements, segregation, and Jim Crow laws. Our country’s ugly history of racial discrimination is an important conversation to have anyway, and this film shows a little of what it was like to be a person of color in a segregated state in the early 1960s.

It’s rare to see a film where the heroes are women, even rarer to see a film those women are geniuses, and rarer still where those women geniuses are black women. Nine-year-old Kitty left the theater inspired to learn more about computer programming and women’s contribution to the American Space Program.

This is a big Hollywood take on true events, so there were some liberties taken with the timeline, with names and places (most of the supporting characters are composites of people who worked at NASA rolled up to represent sentiments on women and race at the time), but according to those in the know – including the real-life Katherine Johnson – the movie is true to the main characters and the general events in the movie.  According to NASA Historian Bill Barry:

“Like anything based on real-life events, there are some temporal things that, as a historian, are like, ‘eh, that didn’t really happen like that,’ but I think that the movie is true to the stories of the main characters,” he said. “On the whole I was very happy with the outcome.”

This article at History vs. Hollywood has a good breakdown of what/who was real and what was fluffed up for entertainment value is a good place to start after watching the movie with your kids.

So…

Can I bring my nine year old to Hidden Figures?

I would say yes!  As long as your child can sit through a character driven movie, I think you should ABSOLUTELY take your kids to see Hidden Figures. Just make sure that your kids are aware of the basic ideas of segregation and misogyny in the 1960s and you should be fine. Besides the racism and misogyny, there is little questionable here.  There’s a mild romantic subplot, a little drinking, and some mild swearing. Kitty had a bit of a hard time paying attention during some of the scenes that were not based in NASA, but she absorbed all of the important plot points.

It’s inspiring to see the perseverance the three main characters showed while facing some really despicable discrimination. And if your child is like Kitty, she may even come away inspired to investigate a new career path!

Parenting Magazine and Sesame Workshop team up to bring us “Sesame Corner”

This post has everything I love: Sesame Street, free stuff, and homeschooling / education materials.  ,  The folks over at Parenting Magazine have a bunch of printable coloring pages and worksheets available on their website. While I just found out this about this via a tweet from @Parenting, they have been offering a new themed pack about once a month since March of 2008!  Your child can learn about Thanksgiving, Recycling, Back to School, Colors, Animals and more with these printable sets.  My only complaint is that the process of clicking and and downloading each page simultaneously is a bit tedious, but again, it’s a great free resource!

Seattle Area Geeks: Can’t make it PAX? There’s other video game fun to be had

Didn’t get tickets to PAX?  Decided to stay home with the littler kids? No fear, there is still gaming fun to be had in the greater Seattle area PAX weekend, and BONUS! It’s free (even food, I’ve been told!).

DigiPen Institute of Technology -the super cool video game college – in Redmond is hosting it’s second “DigiPen Day” on Saturday, August 27.

From their website:

You are invited to celebrate DigiPen Day with us on Saturday, August 27, from noon to 3:00 p.m. at DigiPen’s Redmond campus! This event marks the one-year anniversary of the ribbon-cutting ceremony of DigiPen’s current facilities, where Mayor John Marchione officially declared it “DigiPen Day” in the city of Redmond. This year, we will open our doors to the public once again and invite everyone in the community to play, create, and explore the worlds of gaming and art with us!
The event will include:
  • Video games created by our students
  • Life drawing sessions taught by our instructors
  • Robotic race cars
  • Free food from our Bits & Bytes Café
  • Fun prizes
  • And much more!
DigiPen’s campus is located at 9931 Willows Road NE in Redmond, WA. We hope you and your family can join us for this wonderful event! Please RSVP and direct any questions to Steph Caron, DigiPen’s Admissions outreach manager, at scaron[at]digipen[dot]edu.

You don’t have to miss out on sampling what the brightest up and coming game designers have created even if you are headed to PAX.  DigiPen students will be demo-ing their creations there as well. Make sure to check the hard-working students out and offer your constructive criticism.