In this episode, Rosie Reads Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing! The book was written by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisely, and published in 2017.
Margaret and the Moon, an illustrated biography for kids, explores the life of Margaret Hamilton, one of the first female computer scientists and software engineers. It was her work developing software that recognized error conditions and included recovery programs that saved the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
And all the parents out there will appreciate this: it was Hamilton’s daughter Lauren that inadvertently led to the innovation! Hamilton frequently brought Lauren with her to the lab on nights and weekends, and while playing with the command module – what child wouldn’t?!? – she caused it to crash, leading Hamilton to advocate for error-checking code although NASA countered that astronauts were trained to be “perfect”. As history shows, Hamilton prevailed (thank goodness)!
When you’re finished reading Margaret and the Moon, ask kids these comprehension questions:
- What are two facts you learned about the moon from the book?
- How did Margaret approach problem solving throughout her life, and how did it help her develop the software that saved the lunar landing?
For our Rosie Reads activity, ask kids to examine gender stereotypes (the book lists a few common ones in its first pages), and how they have and haven’t changed since Margaret Hamilton was growing up. Ask kids to make a list, including pictures, of things that mostly boys or mostly girls do today just like the author and illustrator did in the book. How did Margaret change this? And how might kids continue this same work today?