The first Hispanic Woman Astronaut: Ellen Ochoa is also an engineer and inventor!

This learning block represents one week’s work. Aim to watch at least one video and choose at least one activity or project to complete.

There are two videos to choose from about Ellen Ochoa. The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids.  Feel free to watch one, or both!

Choose an activity

Experiment with Ultraviolet Light

Ellen Ochoa studied the effects of the Sun on Earth’s environment and climate. You can conduct your own experiment to study the effects of Ultraviolet (UV) light from the Sun!

You will need:

  • Coloured construction paper (2 sheets)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand lotion
  • A sunny day!

When you complete the experiment, answer these questions:

  • What did you expect would happen?
  • What were your results?
  • Did anything surprise you?
  • Does this experiment make you curious about anything else?

Explore the Discovery Shuttle

Ellen Ochoa’s space missions were aboard NASA’s Discovery shuttle. Watch the videos to learn more about Discovery and see it up close!

After you watch, think about:

– What surprised you about the outside of the space shuttle?

– What do you think it would feel like? Smell like?

– How would it feel to stand beside the enormous spacecraft?

– What surprised you about the inside of the space shuttle?

– Can you imagine floating in that small space with your crewmates? What would that be like?

– What emotions might you feel blasting off into space? Would you be scared, excited, amazed, focused?

Listen to Ellen Ochoa & Reflect

Ellen Ochoa had an impressive career at NASA, not only becoming the first Hispanic woman in space, but completing four space missions and eventually being promoted to Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center! Amazing!

In this video, Ochoa shares insights from her experiences at NASA. Watch the video, then choose ONE of the prompts below. Write your response, then add it to your portfolio.


1. Ochoa describes going into space for her first two missions and seeing the “very, very thin blue line” of the Earth’s atmosphere which is necessary for life on Earth to survive. Think about what you know about global warming and environmental damange. What kinds of human behaviours are threatening the health of our atmosphere? What should be done to protect it? Write down three ideas for how humans can help protect the Earth.

2.  Ellen Ochoa talks about NASA’s moon landing program; although humans did not yet have the knowledge and technology to put a person on the moon, they set a goal and pursued it with determination until it was done! What is the biggest problem facing your country or the world today? Write about why you believe people must decide to solve this problem. What could happen if we DON’T solve it? What amazing things could happen if we DO?

3. Sexism in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers is a big issue. Most jobs in STEM are dominated by men, even though there are AMAZING women scientists out there! Imagine you are writing a letter to teachers, encouraging them to support girls to develop a love for science and math. Explain why those subjects are for EVERYONE.

Design a Space-Themed Postage Stamp

In this video, you will learn a bit more about Ellen Ochoa, then listen to a book about the solar system! The video ends with images of space-themed postage stamps.

After you watch the video, it is YOUR turn to design your own space-themed postage stamp! Download and print a postage stamp template here from Layers of Learning. Then use a pencil to draw in your design. You might want to draw a picture of Ellen Ochoa playing her flute in space, or your favourite planet, or a spacecraft of the future! Choose whatever inspires you! Don’t forget to finish your stamp by colouring it in with markers or coloured pencils.

When you finish, take a photo of your postage stamp design for your portfolio.


Books About ellen ochoa

Click on a book to buy it from Amazon. Or, you can ask for them at your local library. 

The Astronaut with a Song for the Stars Read Aloud
by author Julia Finley Mosca

NOw Let’s Have some fun!