Teaching Students About John Glenn
Teaching students about historical figures is an essential part of their educational journey. One such figure, John Glenn, made a lasting impact on both the American space program and the political world. By teaching students about his life and accomplishments, educators can inspire curiosity and pass on important values, like perseverance and determination. This article will provide guidance for teaching students about John Glenn’s life and legacy.
A Brief Biography:
John Glenn was born in Ohio in 1921. He served as a combat pilot during World War II and the Korean War and later became a test pilot for jet aircraft before joining NASA’s astronaut program in 1959. In February 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on his historic flight aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft. After retiring from NASA, he began a long career in politics, ultimately serving as a U.S. Senator from Ohio for over two decades.
In 1998, at the age of 77, Glenn returned to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, making him both the oldest person to have flown in space and the only person to fly aboard both Mercury and Space Shuttle missions. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 95.
1. The History of Space Exploration:
Begin by teaching students about the history of space exploration in general, highlighting key milestones leading up to Glenn’s orbital flight, such as Yuri Gagarin’s spaceflight that made him the first human in space. This context will help students better appreciate Glenn’s accomplishments.
2. The Mercury Program:
To understand John Glenn’s role within the American space program, introduce students to NASA’s Mercury program, which aimed to send astronauts into orbit around Earth and safely return them home. Discuss with them how this program helped pave the way for future human spaceflight endeavors like Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions.
3. Glenn’s Spaceflight:
Detail John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, which included three full orbits of the Earth. Highlight the challenges faced during the flight, such as the malfunction of the automatic control system and concerns about the heat shield upon re-entry, as well as the triumphs and importance of Glenn’s role as an astronaut.
4. Civic Engagement and Political Career:
After learning about Glenn’s career as an astronaut, shift focus to his political contributions as a U.S. Senator from Ohio. Use his life as an example to discuss with students the importance of civic engagement and the potential for positive change that can come from dedicated public servants.
5. Later Life and Return to Space:
Discuss with students John Glenn’s historic return to space in 1998 at age 77, emphasizing how his persistence and dedication to education further contributed to our understanding of human space travel and aging.
6. Inspirational Activities:
Consider incorporating fun activities related to John Glenn and space exploration into your lesson plan. Examples include having students create posters or dioramas depicting key events in Glenn’s life or organizing a visit to a local planetarium or aerospace museum.