Starting out life as one of five sisters and daughter of a single parent, Ellen Ochoa could have gone in many directions. She chose to go to school and study hard. She majored in electrical engineering at Stanford University, where she earned her doctorate by studying optical systems. After becoming a pioneer in the field and inventing optical devices used in recognizing images, she went to work for NASA. She became the first female Hispanic astronaut in July 1991. Participating in four space flights, Dr. Ochoa was in space over 978 hours. She currently serves as Deputy Director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. What an inspiring woman!
If you are interested in learning more, try Ellen Ochoa: The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut or one of the other age-appropriate biographies of Ellen Ochoa:
For other inspiring stories of women astronauts to celebrate World Space Week, be sure to check:
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
Note: I have to admit I didn’t care for this one on my first reading, somewhat because there are so many women to keep track of. I liked it much better with a second reading.
Roberta Bondar: Canada’s First Woman in Space by Judy Wearing is about another inspiring woman who worked hard and sacrificed to become an astronaut.
I have a confession to make. I absolutely love Chicago Review Press’ children’s books with hands-on activities. They are fabulous. Given that, it is no wonder Valerie Petrillo’s A Kid’s Guide to Latino History: More than 50 Activities is the book I picked for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Wrapped around so many juicy projects that you want to do them all at once, is the history of Latinos starting from Columbus’s discovery of the New World for Spain. This history is not an easy one to read, and it is could be controversial in our current political climate. Petrillo hits the right tone, however, with a quick and straightforward recitation of the facts. She has a lot of information to cover, and she gets right to the point. She supplies enough details to keep children interested. but not so many they are overwhelmed.
Without a doubt, however, the activities are the star of this wonderful book. Starting with a recipe for Champurrado, a drink with Spanish roots, to designing a poster to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, this book has a wealth of activities. There are games, toys, crafts, dances and food. These are thoughtful, carefully-researched projects that truly reinforce learning. The activities could be used with the text or stand alone. Every educator will want a copy of this incredibly useful resource nearby.
In fact there are so many wonderful projects, I wish Hispanic Heritage Month lasted all year!
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August 1, 2009)