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Science & Innovation

Innovation is about more than inventing something new; it is about transforming and iterating on existing products, processes, or ideas.

Collection Objects

Learn the stories of these women or explore more collections related to women in science

Blue stamp with a sepia photo of Barbara McClintock on it. The stamp also features a scientific drawing of her work on transposons and the words Barbara McClintock Geneticist.

A Microscope, A Unique Vision, and a Nobel Prize-Winning Discovery

James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Tony Martin in a Paint Book from Ziegfeld Girl. An illustrated Lamarr wears gold.

Hollywood Beauty Hedy Lamarr Devised Military Technology

Leather nametag with gold NASA logo and the name Mae Jemison.

Mae Jemison: The First Female African American Astronaut

Ruby Hirose sits at a lab station. She wears a white lab coat and holds a pipette.

Ruby Hirose, Lauded Japanese American Scientist

Scientific illustration of Arthrostylidium sarmentosum, a bamboo.

On Mountains and Picket Lines, Botanist Agnes Chase Changed Views of Women

 This artifact is a Development Test Model (DTM) for the Voyager spacecraft.

Breaking into Planetary Science and Exploring the Solar System

Conversation Kit

Let's Talk! Bessie Coleman: Community Innovator Conversation Kit
Bessie Coleman: Community Innovator Teaching and Discussion Guide

Grades 6–8. Time: Variable (1–2 class periods). Aligned with C3 standards.

In this conversation guide, students will learn about pilot Bessie Coleman, an innovator who sought to create change for her community.  In exploring her story as the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn a pilots license, students will examine the question: How do we bring change to our community?


Dr. Manuela Dal Forno is a research scientist with the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Ever since she was a young child, she would investigate the stuff growing on trees in her native Brazil. She now has dedicated her career to studying this "stuff": lichens. By examining lichens that she discovers in the field and ones housed in the U.S. National Herbarium, Manuela is discovering new species and unraveling the complex relationships among lichens' symbionts: fungus, algae, and other microorganisms.

Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina astronaut in space and first Latina, only the second woman, to serve as the Director of the Johnson Space Center, responsible for all astronaut activities for NASA. Find out how this daring and tenacious Latina went beyond the barrier and set new heights for young girls to reach for the stars.

Meet Shaesta Waiz. She's a young, female pilot who's making a solo trip around the world. Find out what inspires her and what advice she has for middle school students.

Roxy Laybourne was a pioneer in forensic ornithology whose work greatly improved the safety of flight. Carla Dove, program director of the National Museum of Natural History's Feather Identification Lab, shares the story of Laybourne.

Smithsonian American Women book cover.

Smithsonian American Women

Remarkable objects and stories of strength, ingenuity, and vision from the National Collection.

Buy the Book
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