‘Hidden Figures’ inspires future scientists

(Photo: Norfolk Public Schools/Twitter)

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — “Hidden Figures,” a movie that’s packing theaters, found a special audience Wednesday, thanks to Old Dominion University.

Moviegoers from five Norfolk Public Schools watched in awe as Katherine Goble worked to send astronauts to the moon.

“I thought it was inspiring. It brought tears to my eyes,” said Granby High School Junior, Jordan Rome. “I’m really thankful we had the opportunity to come here and see it.”

Rome’s reaction is exactly what ODU Dean of Engineering Stephanie Adams wanted.

“They were applauding throughout the movie,” Adams said, “The young people were able to see themselves through the movie and what’s possible for them.”

Adams’ objective is to cultivate dreams and even create new ones.

“Often times students tell us they didn’t know it was possible, because they never met an engineer or a scientist or a mathematician.”

Now, they have met one.

“Ever since the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ came out, NASA has identified what they are calling ‘modern figures’ and so I am one of three modern figures at NASA Langley,” Julie Williams-Byrd said.

Williams-Byrd is currently working on sending people to Mars.

“What I’m doing is looking at the systems and the capabilities and the technology that we need to develop in order to safely send humans to Mars,” she said. “It’s really exciting! I love it.”

Her enthusiasm is contagious. Combine that with the film’s inspiration and this group of students, and the sky is the limit.

Hampton students and their parents will have the change to attend a private screening of “Hidden Figures” on Saturday, Jan. 28, starting at 9 a.m. at AMC Hampton Towne Centre 24. Hampton’s Healthy Families partnered with Elizabeth City State University’s Pathways in Mathematics Education and Remote Sensing, a project funded through NASA Minority University Research and Education, to cover the admission of 1,000 students and parents.