New elementary school named after legendary NASA mathematician opens in Tacoma

Monday was an exciting start to the school week for more than 500 elementary students in the Bethel School District. It was the first day of school at the brand new Katherine G. Johnson Elementary School in Tacoma.

Johnson, an African American, was a NASA mathematician for over 30 years. His calculations helped send astronauts to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission. NASA called Johnson an American hero and trailblazer, “who will never be forgotten.”

“Now that I’m at a school named after someone who was important to society and I helped someone go into space, I think it’s just an inspiration for some people who want to be her,” fifth grader Alayna Techur said. what she did is still appreciated to this day.”

Johnson died in February 2020 at age 101. Although his career at NASA spanned three decades, it was only in recent years that his work began to be recognized. His legacy could inspire elementary school students to become pioneers in their own way.

“I’m so excited now that there’s all this new stuff, new features. I’m so excited and everything is so cool,” Techur said.

“Katherine G. Johnson inspired us to reach for the stars and that’s what we inspire our kids to do. So we talk about her, we read about her, we learn about her. for our children to become future scientists and engineers, mathematicians, artists,” said Mary Waddell, STEAM specialist at Katherine G. Johnson Elementary.

The K-5th Grade school can accommodate 700 students. Many of them are excited to see the school’s STEAM lab, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

“We have 3D printers, laser cutters, cricket cutters, we have this amazing rod making space where kids can put their creativity and problem solving to work and get their hands on it from an early age,” said Lindsay Smolko. , STEAM specialist at Katherine G. Johnson Elementary.

Parents will have the chance to discover the new school during conferences next week. The teachers said they hoped to bring local professionals as guest presenters at the school.

“We’re excited to bring people – cardiologists, and we have Boeing and Microsoft and all those people in our backyard. I want to introduce them to our students, so they can see themselves and see their future in those people who live around us,” Smolko said.

The Bethel School District has More information on the new primary school.

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