Terrific Woman Tuesday: Rosalind Franklin

Do you remember learning about DNA in your science class? Your teacher might’ve explained that James Watson and Francis Crick had uncovered the double helix structure of DNA. But did your teacher tell you that a woman helped them uncover that? Our terrific woman terrific woman this Tuesday is Rosalind Franklin!

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Rosalind is the woman behind the discovery yet no one gives her credit. She used her expertise in X-ray crystallography to obtain photographs of DNA diffraction patterns.

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Without Rosalind’s permission, her pictures were leaked and her science partner, Wilkins showed Watson. A light bulb turned on in Watson’s brain when he saw the pictures, and him and his science partner, Francis ended up taking all of the credit for Rosalind’s discovery.

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Rosalind didn’t know how significant her photographs of the DNA were and she died unacknowledged for her role in it. Thank you Rosalind for your studies and your work in science. She may not have been acknowledged when she was alive but she is definitely acknowledged today. So if DNA hasn’t been discussed in your biology class yet, be sure to mention Rosalind when this lesson is brought up! 🙂

Terrific Woman Tuesday: Mae Jemison

Because it is Black History Month, my terrific women these upcoming Tuesdays will be about African American women who have achieved great things.

This woman made history when she became the first black woman astronaut. This Tuesday’s terrific woman is Dr. Mae Jemison! Mae had a passion for astronomy ever since she was a little girl. She went to Stanford University where she double majored in chemical engineering and Afro-American studies. She also studied medicine at Cornell University and while she was there she was able to travel out of the country to places like, Thailand and Kenya. In those countries, Mae was able to provide primary medical care services to those who needed it.

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In 1987, Mae was picked out of 2,000 applicants to be an astronaut for NASA. At NASA she was a mission specialist, and she also worked as a liaison between the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and NASA crew members in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Then, on September 12, 1992 Mae became the first African American woman to go to space! How exciting!

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After working with NASA for 6 years, Mae decided to teach at Dartmouth College and she also started to help children in school who have a passion for science. Mae has broken boundaries, inspired girls from all over, gave back to her community and internationally, and has advocated for science in children’s education. Thank you Dr. Mae Jemison for being such a wonderful role model. This Black History Month we honor you!

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