American women: from adventure to invention

You've heard of Edison, Columbus, and Lindbergh. But what about Knight, Sacagawea, and Earhart? Test your knowledge of these and other women adventurers, explorers, and inventors by matching the names with the descriptions below.

1. While still an architecture student, this Asian-American entered a design competition for a memorial to Vietnam War soldiers. She proposed polished black marble walls meeting in a V engraved with the names of the 58,000 soldiers who died. It was very controversial at first, but now it is one of the most-visited sites in Washington, D.C. Who was this inventive 21-year old?

2. In 1932, this "First Lady of the Air" became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Fifteen hours and 19 minutes after she left Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, she landed her flame-shooting plane in a farmer's field in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Who was this aviator who calmly explained to onlookers, "I've come from America"?

3. In 1943, this United States 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 relevant today. The "compiler" and COBOL, a data-processing language, are her inventions. Who is this pioneer who satisfied her curiosity as a child by disassembling alarm clocks?

4. In 1870, she developed a paper-folding device as well as other practical inventions like a window sash, a clasp for robes, and a shoe cutter. But she's best known for patenting the square-bottomed paper grocery bag we know today. Who was this "female Edison," who registered 27 patents - more than any other woman of her time?

5. This native American, 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 by living off the land and made the difference between the expedition's success and failure. This female "Columbus" has been honored by having a river, a peak, and a mountain pass named after her. Her image may turn up in your pocket soon. Who is the most memorialized woman explorer in American history and was, according to William Clark, "the inspiration, the genius of the occasion"?

6. This largely self-educated astronomer from Nantucket, Mass., discovered a new comet in 1847. One year later, she 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 that skill in observation was more powerful than sophisticated tools. Who was this explorer of the heavens who, colleagues claimed, didn't even own a decent telescope?

7. She was the first American woman to watch 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets every 24 hours. How's that? In June 1983, this US astronaut became the youngest flier and the first American woman in space. She served as flight engineer for the space shuttle Challenger, launching and retrieving satellites. Who is this scientist who has been star-gazing ever since she was a child?

a. Amelia Earhart

b. Sacagawea

c. Maria Mitchell

d. Maya Ying Lin

e. Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hooper

f. Sally Ride

g. Margaret Knight


(1) d; (2) a; (3) e; (4) g; (5.) b; Sacagawea is on the new $1 coin (6) c; (7) f.

SOURCES: 'Portraits of American Women,' compiled by G. J. Barker-Benfield and Catherine Clinton; 'Gallant Women,' by Margaret Chase Smith and H. Paul Jeffers; 'Women Adventurers, Explorers, and Inventors,' by the Michigan Department of Education; 'To Space and Back,' by Sally Ride with Susan Okie; 'The U.S. Space Camp Book of Astronauts,' by Anne Baird; 'Sally Ride: A Space Biography,' by Barbara Kramer; The World Book Encyclopedia.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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