Share

BIO Classroom

BIO Classroom

Bio of the Month Amelia Earhart

BIOGRAPHY®: AMELIA EARHART

She was an uncommon heroine, a legendary aviator and the center of one of the greatest mysteries of modern time. An adventurer at heart, Amelia Earhart was determined to make her mark as a pilot while elevating the status of women. Born in 1897 in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart was an active child whose family moved frequently. After graduating from high school in Chicago, she served as a military nurse in Canada during World War I and became trained as a social worker—yet it was clear that her true passion was flying. Earhart bought a Kinner Canary single-engine plane in 1922 and learned how to fly through lessons from fellow female pilot Neta Snook. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made his record-setting solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, a first in aviation history. Earhart became the first woman to fly as a passenger across the Atlantic in 1928.
After sharpening her flying skills, Earhart achieved an amazing milestone in 1932 when she became the first female pilot to make the trans-Atlantic journey, flying from Newfoundland to Ireland in record time. Earhart became an advocate for commercial airline travel and for the equal rights of women in aviation. She broke another stunning record in 1935 when she became the first person to make a solo flight from California to Hawaii. Sadly, her most ambitious flight attempt ended in tragedy in 1937. Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan set off in a twin-engine Lockheed Electra airplane with the gal of flying around the world. Two-thirds of the way through this flight, their plane disappeared in the Pacific, without a trace. President Franklin Roosevelt authorized a massive search, yet the effort turned up empty. Historians and aviation enthusiasts continue to speculate about Earhart’s fate to this day.
Even as she was smashing aviation records, her unconventional short hair, pants and leather jackets had already made Amelia Earhart an icon. This one hour documentary uses amazing photographs, archival footage, and commentary from historians to capture the life of this aviation pioneer. This biography would be would be an excellent companion for course units on women's history and for lectures related to 20th century transportation and culture.

CURRICULUM LINKS

Amelia Earhart: Queen of the Air is appropriate for History, Social Studies, Women’s Studies, and Technology courses. It is appropriate for advanced middle school, high school, and college students. Educators may want to use clips from this program in their course units and lectures.

VOCABULARY

Using a dictionary (www.merriamwebster.com) or an encyclopedia, students may want to define or explain the significance of the following terms from this program:
  • Aeronautical
  • Aviation
  • Conspiracy
  • Convention
  • Flamboyant
  • Landmark
  • Laud
  • Naïve
  • Quell
  • Wary

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What was Amelia Earhart like as a child? How do you think these traits foreshadow her future career?
  2. How did Amelia become exposed to flying? How did people in her life react when she expressed an interest in flying?
  3. What were some of Earhart’s career experiences before she became a pilot? How do you think these experiences shaped her life and future goals?
  4. How did Amelia’s style of dress and hair cut break social conventions?
  5. What role did G. P. Putnam play in Earhart’s rise to fame? Do you think she would have had the same success without his help?
  6. How did the Friendship Flight dramatically change Amelia’s fate?
  7. Why do you think Earhart decided to try to fly across the Atlantic? What were the risks and rewards at stake?
  8. What were the conditions of Amelia’s solo transatlantic flight? Were you surprised by any of what you learned about her journey? How did her fellow Americans react to her successful journey?
  9. What corners did Amelia cut in preparation for her around-the-world flight? How was her physical and mental health leading up to the trip? What were some of the myths and rumors surrounding Earhart’s disappearance?
  10. Many people have described Amelia Earhart as “unconventional.” Why? How do you think her life might have been different if she had been born 50 years later?

EXTENDED ACTIVITIES

  1. Imagine you are Amelia Earhart, setting out on the Friendship Flight, your first solo trans-Atlantic flight. Write a 2-3 page travel log detailing the events of the trip and documenting the challenges and triumphs you face along the way. Share these writings with the larger class or group.
  2. Amelia Earhart was a record-breaking pilot, but she also used her achievements to help publicize the importance of equal rights for women and for the benefits of commercial airline travel. Write a letter to the editor or short newspaper opinion piece on one of these topics, from Earhart’s perspective.
  3. Earhart achieved many milestones throughout her career as a pilot. From the time she was born in 1897 through her disappearance in 1937, dozens of important world events took place. Create a timeline spanning from 1897 through 1937 with two lines –one line to chart important world events, and the other to chart Earhart’s records and advances in aviation. You may want to narrow down 10 events on each line that you think are most relevant. These timelines can be presented on white roll-out paper, in Powerpoint format, or any other format you chose. (Visit http://teacher.scholastic.com/earhart/timeline/timeline.htm for an example of this kind of timeline and more info about Earhart’s life.)
  4. You are a reporter covering Earhart’s around-the-world adventure. Write a 1-2 page article detailing Amelia’s planned route, personnel issues, technical difficulties and eventually, her sudden disappearance. Report on the public’s reaction to this devastating news, and address some of the conspiracy theories that arose when Earhart vanished.

REFERENCES

Websites

Bio.com background information on Amelia Earhart:
http://www.biography.com/people/amelia-earhart-9283280
A timeline of Earhart’s life:
http://www.ameliaearhartmuseum.org/
Images from the Library of Congress:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/106_earh.html

Books

Earhart, Amelia. 20 Hour, 40 Minutes: Our Flight in the Friendship (National Geographic, 2003)
Goldstein, Donald M. and Katherine V. Dillon. Amelia: A Life of the Aviation Legend (Potomac Books Inc, 1999)
Lovell, Mary S. The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1991)
Rich, Doris L. A Biography: Amelia Earhart (Smithsonian, 1996)

ADVERTISEMENT