Hidden Figures - A Mentor's Perspective

February 16, 2017


S. and I had a “double whammy” this past Saturday! We drove up to Plymouth for the Circle Swim in the afternoon, then in the evening we went to see the movie Hidden Figures at the Regal Cinema in Concord. I had been hearing from others, including my own daughter, about this wonderful movie, and I’d been trying to find a time when I could bring 13 year old S. At first, she was skeptical because it sounded very different – more serious, mostly—than the ones we’d see together previously, such as Zootopia and The BFG. But once the movie started rolling, I could tell that it would hold her interest, and it did.


A couple of times, when I leaned over to say something to her, she’d give me a big “Shush!”  Without spilling all the beans, I’ll say that it’s pretty amazing how many different topics come together here. Set in the early 60’s, it’s about NASA’s quest to put the first astronauts up in orbit, and the crucial supporting role played by a number of black women – three in particular – who did the math that enabled the missions to take flight.


There’s such a lot going on here at the same time!  The space program, science and math, the dawn of the IBM computer, women’s rights, civil rights, and – maybe above all – how crucial the personal qualities of grit and persistence are for anyone trying to move forward in a career.  All the way through, I could tell that S. was making connections in her mind between the movie and what she’d learned in school or on field trips – about segregation, for instance, or about who Alan Shepherd was.


For us, since we’ve taken a couple of trips to the Shepard- McAuliffe Discovery Center in Concord, the movie built on some knowledge we had already gained, so that made it even more fabulous. Talk about educational and pleasurable all at the same time! We will be talking about Hidden Figures for some time to come, I’m sure.

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