Is there a "woman Edison"? A female "Columbus"? A feminine counterpart to astronaut John Glenn? If so, who are they? From the list below, identify some of our most famous American women adventurers, explorers, and inventors.
a. Dian Fossey
c. Maria Mitchell
d. Rachel Carson
e. Grace Murray Hopper
f. Sally Ride
g. Virginia Apgar
h. Margaret E. Knight
Type your answers in the empty box (or just remember them), and then check your answers at the bottom.
- This zoologist studied wild mountain gorillas in Africa for 18 years. She wrote a book, Gorillas in the Mist, about her experiences living with the gorillas and battling poachers. The book was made into a movie. Who was this brave woman who studied and protected gorillas in Africa.
- In 1962, a marine biologist published a book called Silent Spring that warned about the dangers of heavy use of pesticides like DDT. Her book helped awaken public interest in ecology. The U.S. government reviewed its pesticide policy and asked her to testify in Congress about the need to protect the environment and human health. As a result, DDT was banned. Who was this scientist and popular author?
- In 1943, this U.S. Naval Reserve lieutenant served her country by working on the Navy’s "Computation Project" where she learned to program the world’s first large-scale digital computer. Her contributions are still felt today. The "compiler" and COBOL, a data processing language, are her inventions. Who is this computer pioneer who satisfied her curiosity as a child by disassembling alarm clocks?
- Did you ever wonder who invented the square-bottomed paper bag? In 1870, "Mattie," who had been always handy with tools, developed a paper folding device as well as other practical inventions like a window sash, a clasp for robes, and a shoe cutter. Who was this "woman Edison,"as biographers call her, registering 27 patents - more than any other woman of her time?
- This Native-American explorer whose name means "Bird Woman" served as a guide to Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition to the western United States in 1804. She knew how to survive living off the land, making the difference between the expedition’s success and failure of reaching the Pacific coast. This female "Columbus" has been honored by having a river, a peak, and a mountain pass named after her. Who is the most memorialized woman explorer in American history and was, according to Clark, "the inspiration, the genius of the occasion?"
- This largely self-educated astronomer from Nantucket, MA discovered a new comet in 1847, and a year later, became the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A public school is named after her, as well as a crater on the moon. As a professor of astronomy, she taught her students the power of observation over sophisticated tools. Who was this "explorer of the Heavens" who, colleagues claim, didn’t even own a decent telescope?
- She developed an easy, safe test for how well babies are doing in the first few minutes after birth. This doctor was the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The test score, now used all over the world, was named after her. So if you know the name of the score, you know who this is!
- She was the first American woman to watch sixteen sunrises and sixteen sunsets every twenty-four hours. How’s that? In June, 1983, this United States astronaut became the youngest flyer and the first American woman to rocket into space. For over six days, she served as the flight engineer for the space shuttle Challenger, launching and retrieving satellites. Who is this scientist who has been stargazing ever since she was a child?
For more about women scientists, visit I was wondering ...a curious look at Women's Adventures in Science.