Posted on March 20, 2020

Blast Off!

Katherine Johnson, one of the first African American women to work as a NASA scientist, helped put people on the Moon with her amazing math skills! Can you and your little number cruncher count down to launch?


Printable (optional)


1. Katherine Johnson used her math skills to help astronauts travel to the Moon!

2. We’ll count down from 10 to 1 to make sure we’re ready to launch into space.

3. When we reach the end of the countdown, let’s jump up and shout, “We have a lift-off!” We’re off to the moon!

Words to Use:

Moon – a natural satellite that orbits the Earth and reflects the Sun’s light

Count – to say the numbers in order

Mission – an important assignment like sending people safely to the Moon

Launch– to send into the air


Start at 3 and count down to 1. Say “Blast off!” at the end: 3 – 2 – 1 – Blast off!


Let’s use the countdown throughout the day: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Let’s blast off to bathtime! Try leaving out a number in the countdown and see if your child can notice and correct the mistake!


Counting down helps your budding mathematician understand that numbers go in order!

Extend The Learning:

Watch Team Umizoomi’s “Umi Space Heroes!” in the Noggin app. In this one-hour special the team blasts off into an awesome outer space adventure to put the moon back together.


Download Printable!

About Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician and STEM leader whose calculations helped NASA astronauts get to the Moon. The 2016 movie “Hidden Figures” told her story! As a child, Katherine was a great math student, and she studied hard so she could become a mathematician. She found out in 1953 that NASA was hiring mathematicians; she got the job and it launched her amazing career! Later, Katherine advocated for kids to study science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

“You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you.”
-Katherine Johnson

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