‘Hidden Figures’ Reveals the Power of Math

Hidden Figures

Yesterday, I wrote about P-TECH, the acclaimed network of six-year high schools developed by IBM that teaches coveted STEM skills to predominantly low income students of color.

One thing I didn’t get to mention is that P-TECH’s founding principal, Rashid Davis, will be participating on a panel at the renowned Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, happening now in Las Vegas.

Who else will be on the panel? None other than Academy Award-winning actor Octavia Spencer, who portrays real-life NASA math genius Dorothy Vaughan in the eagerly awaited film Hidden Figures, opening in theaters nationwide Jan. 6.

The Big Reveal in Hidden Figures

You know the story by now. So-called colored computers—black mathematically skilled women—were tasked along with others to do complex, abstract calculations to support the liftoff and landing of Col. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. These women—still subject to the South’s segregation laws—helped make up the “mathematical ground troops in the Cold War,” as Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly puts it on her website.

But, this incredible story was truly hidden—buried—until Lee Shetterly wrote the book on which the film is based.

Unfolding from the 1940s to the 1960s, the story, as Hidden Figures film director Theodore …read more      

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