Be Part of the Conversation

Hidden Figures Student Contest

We invite you to write an essay, create an artistic presentation, or construct a scientific project that relates to and reflects upon your reading and discussions of Margot Lee Shetterly’s nonfiction book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race. Your contribution should relate to ideas brought up in Shetterly’s book, such as the time period (WWII, the Civil Rights
era and the space race) and/or ideas of gender, segregation, education, discrimination, civil rights, technology, STEM, history, voice, invention, perseverance, breaking barriers, physics, NASA, and President Kennedy. Feel free to expand on these ideas and construct your analysis in whatever project format you choose. We encourage interdisciplinary submission but—for the sake of organization—ask that you identify the category in which your project predominantly fits.

The project should fall within one of three categories:

  1. Essay, an academic essay
  2. Creative, personal essay, poetry, short fiction, music, visual art, performance, visual, material, or technical artistic project
  3. Scientific, a technical project with presentation

Examples of contributions:

  1. Essay: Academic essays written in English following the conventions of MLA or APA that are a minimum of 4 pages. These essays should demonstrate good writing and critical understanding of the work. Examples include:
    • Essay analysis of the book Hidden Figures in relation to the film adaptation. This analysis would compare the presentation of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson in the film and book.
    • An essay on the real people behind NASA’s Hidden Figures, including Katherine Johnson, see here:
    • An essay exploring an important theme or central idea of the book, like education, discrimination or a STEM topic.
  2. Creative: A presentation that uses artistic expression to render the ideas in Hidden Figures. Examples include:
    • Written expression (personal essay, poetry, short story, graphic novel)
    • Performative art project (a play, dance or musical composition)
    • Visual media project (posters, film/video, photography, etc.)
  3. Scientific: A computer science, physics, mathematical or technical presentation that addresses and relates to Hidden Figures ideas. These should deepen our understanding of some computer science or STEM topics from the book. Examples include:
    • Presentation about a scientific achievement or advancement during the historical period of the book.
    • Presentation about the mathematical work of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson (or some other important person from the book).

Submission Date: Friday, March 24, 2023, 12 Midnight
Submissions to

There will be first, second and third prize winners in each category. All winners will be announced in April 2023 and honored at the Common Read closing event.
First Prize: $200
Second prize: $125
Third prize: $75
Questions: Contact
Sponsored by the Bergen Community College Common Read Committee