Katherine Johnson

Learn about the important work of African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson,  with this multimedia showcase celebrating her birthday on August 26. 

Credit: St George Thompson


Teachers: Visit the free MY HERO Lesson Plan for Katherine Johnson. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.


Katherine Johnson, born August 26, 1918, is an African-American mathematician who worked as an aerospace technologist for NASA and was the first woman in her division to have her name on a report. In 1962, astronaut John Glenn wouldn't begin his orbit around the moon without Johnson first checking all computer calculations by hand: "If she says they're good, then I'm ready to go."

Listen & Read Along

Katherine Johnson

By: Kyra from Ankara, Turkey
Her story was hidden for decades: Katherine Johnson plotted multiple flight courses for NASA, including the Apollo 11 spacecraft, the first spaceship to reach the moon.

Science Hero: Katherine Johnson

By: Kyra from Ankara
A hero is a person who has managed to remain in our collective memory for their extraordinary achievements. What, then, is an unsung hero? I believe that that is what we call someone who should have been remembered, but was erased from history for a number of reasons.

My Hero suggested viewing: Trailer for Hidden Figures (2016).

"HIDDEN FIGURES is the untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world.  The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big."


Artwork Inspired by Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson from the MY HERO Gallery

By: Saint George

Katherine Goble Johnson is an African-American physicist/ mathematician who contributed to NASA's digital computer use


Na Kia Boykin, Katherine Johnson's great-granddaughter, earned a perfect score of 600 on her math SOL as a third-grader at Palmer Elementary School.

Na Kia Boykin

Support MY HERO and Purchase a Katherine Johnson poster from the MY HERO Store

Support MY HERO and purchase a digital download of an illustration of Katherine Johnson by artist Saint George Thompson | $25



These Del Norte High School Students Want to Follow in Johnson's Footsteps

Katherine Johnson

By: Sarika Pasumarthy

"I am aspiring to go into a career in computer science."

Katherine Johnson

By: Elijah Naval

"Katherine Johnson has inspired me to become a physicist at NASA."

Katherine Johnson: Extraordinary Mathematician and Human Being

By: Ishita Vasishtha

"Because of Johnson, I can now confidently do what I want with my life."

Katherine Johnson

By: Ridhima Inukurti

"It is my dream and goal to become an astronautical engineer for NASA."

Inspired by Katherine Johnson? Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year with the MY HERO Calendar 

Students: Share Your Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

Our Curators


Hero Stories curated by MY HERO General Editor and Writer Shannon Luders-Manuel. Shannon is a critical mixed race scholar and writer based in Hollywood, CA. 


Short films curated by MY HERO International Film Festival director Wendy Milette


Artwork curated by MY HERO Arts Education and Gallery director Victoria Murphy. 

Organizer created on 7/7/2019 7:17:20 PM by Xenia Shin

Last edited 3/6/2020 12:14:19 AM by Xenia Shin