Summer Research Program for Science Teachers


Joanne DeMizio

Archdiocese of New York

August 2003


Grades 7-9


Having Tea Among The Stars


Aim: How have woman contributed to the endeavor of Astronomy in spite of obstacles from society?


Objective: Students will be able to:

a)     identify the contributions and struggles of significant women in the field of astronomy 

b)     compare and contrast the lives of these women


                          (Content Standards F and G)


        Material: web sites

                      literature (biographies)


       Time period: a) about 2 40 minute periods to prepare


b)    several days to do independent research at

 home or in computer lab

 c ) one period to make presentations


      Suggested Web Resources:!gmarcy/women/history.html


       Class Arrangement: Groups of 4 to 5


       Background: Children should have a prior understanding that -   

        until modern times - women have not always been significant

        “players” in the science arena. Even women from wealth were    

        limited in educational and employment opportunities. 


       Lesson Flow:


  1. Have students name scientists/inventors associated with some significant scientific firsts or understandings throughout history.


  1. Bring attention to the scarcity of women names that have been mentioned.


  1. Elicit the names of any prominent female astronomers from the students and record the names on the board.


  1. Add the following names:

                             Annie Jump Cannon      Cecilia Payne

                             Williamina Fleming        Henrietta Swo

                             Maria Mitchell               Mildred Shapley

                            Antonia Maury               Helen Sawyer

                            Jocelyn Bell                   Sylvia Mussels

                            Carolyn Herschel           Adelaide Ames

                            Mme du Pierry               Mary Whitney

                            Evelyn Leland                Sandra Faber

                            Vera Rubin                    Margaret Burbridge 


  1. Assign each student in a group a different scientist to research. Students should look into the life and contribution(s) to astronomy of these women.  Source documents should be noted and pertinent information/anecdotes about the person’s life recorded onto a 5” by 8” index card.


  1. After individual research is conducted the groups should convene and compose a short vignette (about 5 to10 minutes in length) of these women meeting for tea. Guide the students to create dialogue which permits the audience to gain an understanding of the person, her struggles and her accomplishments. Of course, entertainment value, without loss of science content, is strongly endorsed.  Each member of the group plays the role of the scientist they researched.    (Teaching Standards D and E)


  1. Each group should present their vignettes to the class.


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