Learn about African American engineer and astronaut, Mae Jemison! With our free printable space shuttle project, you can explore both space and engineering concepts too! Add this simple space shuttle activity to your space theme lesson plan, Black History Month celebration, or any time engineering project. Design and build your own space shuttle from simple supplies. 


First Black Female Astronaut In Space

Who is Mae Jemison? Mae Jemison is an African American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Important Men and Women in Black History

In college, Mae studied the physical and social sciences, and learned to speak Russian and the African language Swahili. She earned a degree in chemical engineering and African studies.

After college, she studied medicine for four years, and became a medical doctor. In 1987, Mae was accepted into NASA’s astronaut program. She trained in Texas, learning about space exploration.

Then worked for NASA, while she waited for a shuttle assignment. When the space shuttle Endeavour launched into orbit in 1992, Mae became the first African-American woman to orbit the earth.

Jemison has had many careers. She has been a physician, engineer, business woman, professor and was even an actress on Star Trek!

Learn about more famous women in STEM!

Get Your FREE Printable Space Shuttle Project!

DIY Space Shuttle Project

THE ENGINEERING CHALLENGE: Build a space shuttle out of a water bottle and random supplies you have around.

TIME CONSTRAINT: 30 minutes or as time allows.

SUGGESTED SUPPLIES: Water bottle, Tape, Glue, Scissors, Markers, Other random
supplies: (paper, cardboard, paint, plastic lids)

INSTRUCTIONS: Encourage the kids to spend up to 5 minutes talking about their design ideas and making rough sketches! Allow time if possible to share their shuttle design and discuss challenges and what worked well.

EXTEND THE CHALLENGE: In addition to making the space shuttle, if time allows, see if you can make the rocket and boosters too!


  • What worked well and what did not work well?
  • If you could do this challenge again, what would you do differently?
  • If you could use or add a different material what would you choose?

More Engineering Resources

Below you’ll find various engineering resources to supplement the many engineering projects on the website. From the design process to fun books to key vocabulary terms…you can feel confident providing these valuable skills. Each one of the resources below has a free printable!

Engineering Design Process

Engineers often follow a design process. There are many different design processes that all engineers use, but each one includes the same basic steps to identify and solve problems.

An example of the process is “ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve.” This process is flexible and may be completed in any order. Learn more about the Engineering Design Process.

What Is An Engineer?

Is a scientist an engineer? Is an engineer a scientist? It might not be very clear! Often scientists and engineers work together to solve a problem. You may find it hard to understand how they are similar yet different. Learn more about what an engineer is.

Engineering Books For Kids

Sometimes the best way to introduce STEM is through a colorfully illustrated book with characters your kids can relate to! Check out this fantastic list of teacher-approved engineering books, and get ready to spark curiosity and exploration!

Engineering Terms

Think like an engineer! Talk like an engineer! Act like an engineer! Get kids started with a vocabulary list that introduces some awesome engineering terms. Make sure to include them in your next engineering challenge or project.

Reflection Questions

Use these reflection questions below with your kids after they have completed a STEM challenge. These questions will encourage discussion of the results and increase critical thinking skills. These questions or prompts will help to promote meaningful discussions individually and in groups. Read the questions for reflection here.

More Fun Space Activities

Pair this lunar lander project with more easy hands-on space activities for kids.

Study moon phases and create your own hands-on activity.

Build a satellite from simple supplies.

Build a lunar lander and learn about scientist, Katherine Johnson.

Make a DIY spectroscope that scientists use to study space.

Build a model of the Aquarius Reef Base.

Printable Space Projects Pack

With 250+ pages of hands-on fun space-themed fun, you can easily explore classic space themes with your kiddos, including moon phases, constellations, the solar system, and of course the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing with Neil Armstrong.