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Pupils celebrate achievements of female scientists

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 March 2019

Pupils at Essex Primary School acting out an interview between NASA scientist Katherine Johnson and a reporter. Picture: Michele Zystra

Pupils at Essex Primary School acting out an interview between NASA scientist Katherine Johnson and a reporter. Picture: Michele Zystra

Michele Zystra

Famous women scientists took centre stage at a school in Manor Park when pupils explained their discoveries and sang songs in their honour.

The Year One and Two pupils at Essex Primary School wrote the words to the verses and sang in English, Polish and the languages of India.

The youngsters explained these women’s struggles and emphasized that today science today is for girls as well as boys.

Children at the school in Sheridan Road, dressed up as the characters, explaining the contributions of Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Asima Chatterjee.

They also spoke about “Hidden Figures” - Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan - three black NASA employees whose calculations put a man into space but who were banned from using “white only” coffee pots and lavatories.

Dressed in lab coats, pupils described the work of Marie Skłodowska Curie, born in Poland in 1867 but who went to Paris to study because women were not then admitted to Polish universities.

Pioneering research on radioactivity, she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.

Rosalind Franklin, whose research led to the discovery of the structure of DNA, died before she could receive the Nobel Prize, awarded to Francis Crick and James Watson whose achievement was based on her work.

The youngsters sang their song called DNA, DNA, to the tune of Over There, written in 1917 when American troops joined in the First World War.

Asima Chatterjee was the first Indian woman to complete a doctorate. She developed anti-epilepsy and anti-malaria drugs.

The piece on the Hidden Figures was a conversation between two girls, one wearing a grey wig to represent Katherine Johnson, now aged 100, the only one still alive, the other dressed as a reporter interviewing her.

The youngsters were helped by nine professional musicians who went into school to tutor them, helped them with their song writing and played to accompany them on the day.

The event was performed in front of the children’s parents and dignitaries including East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

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