Historical Figure & Event

In 1969, the first human walked on the moon.

July 20
Calendar Activity Type
Historical Figure & Event

Event Description

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." With those words, Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon. Armstrong's historic first step on July 20, 1969, was a hallmark mission in the U.S. space program and marked the first time humans stood physically on a celestial object other than Earth. See Armstrong's biography for a movie showing the historic moment.

Classroom Activity

The words Armstrong spoke (audio from NASA) as he stepped onto the moon were carefully chosen. Even so, Armstrong is reported to have made a mistake. NASA planned for Armstrong to say, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" (emphasis mine); however, he left out the word "a" when he stepped onto the moon's surface. Begin your exploration of Armstrong's famous words by discussing the all-important difference that one word can make. Take the opportunity to discuss the gendered language that Armstrong uses as well.

After exploring Armstrong's words in detail, turn to a discussion of why those words were chosen. In a speech at Rice University on September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon! We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things-not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our abilities and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."

How do Armstrong's words connect to Kennedy's, how do they connect to the mission at large, and how do they represent the space program?


This webpage developed by NASA Kids celebrates the 45-year anniversary of Armstrong landing on the moon. The site is intended for elementary readers, and includes photos and a tool to calculate your weight on other planets.

This site from Smithsonian includes basic historical facts about Apollo 11, along with photos and actual audio files of Armstrong's first words on the moon.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is host to this collection of pages featuring details on the Apollo missions, including quotations from the people involved, photos with the ability to zoom, and a list of artifacts in the gallery.

Related Resources