Women as Aeronauts

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Examine the central role women played in the history of aeronautics, the many barriers they faced, and the scientific advances they made despite the obstacles. 

Learning Targets

  • Make connections to scientific fields related to aeronautics; 
  • Conduct independent historical research to build content knowledge and context; 
  • Communicate the barriers that women scientists faced in the 19th century; and 
  • Communicate the trailblazing efforts that women aeronauts accomplished. 


  • To introduce the context of the lesson and Driving Questions; 
  • To engage students in exploring their thinking about the lesson topic; 
  • To reveal students’ background knowledge to the teacher; and 
  • To engage students’ interest. 

The purpose of this lesson is for students to build background knowledge on women aeronauts to inform their viewing of the film The Aeronauts and to have a deeper and more accurate context for the Hot Air Balloon Engineering Challenge. 

Students will explore the lives of several trailblazing women who formed the composite character of Amelia Wren from the film and critically examine the contributions of women in the fields of science during this era. 

Driving Questions: 

  • What is aeronautics? 
  • What scientific fields contribute to aeronautics? 
  • How did the contribution of women aeronauts inform scientific discoveries? 
  • How does the film The Aeronauts inform student understanding? 

Lesson created by Blueshift Education

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Lesson Plan Resources

Lesson Plan
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December 2019
I am an Aerospace Technology teacher and this lesson fits well with my curriculum. My goal is to increase the percentage of female students in my program and any materials highlighting the contributions of women in aviation and aerospace are a valuable resource.
December 2019
November 2019
I am the sole upper-level French teacher in my high school, and as such, I have more flexibility in choosing topics, resources and material to incorporate in my lessons. All my students this year happen to be female, and they all happen to be personally interested in learning more about famous French women in history. This lesson plan offers a very sound basis for creating a French lesson around Sophie Blanchard and France in the early 19th century. All the resources provided in this lesson plan have connections with or counterparts in French documents. The poster activity idea is of course also feasible in French. Hopefully a variety of audio and subtitles language options will be made available as soon as the movie is released online, so excerpts can be used in class for language practice (I do not play whole movies in class because I lose my students' attention in the target language and also because of copyright issues).