Kara Cooney is a professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA who specializes in the study of craft production, coffins, and ancient world economics. Kara earned her PhD in Egyptology from Johns Hopkins University in 2002 and has studied nearly 300 coffins in collections around the world. In 2014 she released a biography titled The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt on one of Egypt’s poorly known leaders.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Kara Cooney and the topics (anthropology, Egypt, geography, women) that she will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.

Before the Show:

  • Have students review Kara Cooney’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Egypt, or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the areas where Kara works.

  • Have students read the “anthropology” encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different subdisciplines anthropology techniques. After reading, ask: How are different disciplines of anthropology different from one another? Describe the role of an anthropologist. What do you think a typical day of an anthropologist in the field might look like?

  • Watch the Life After Death in Ancient Egypt video to familiarize students with the Egypts cultural practices around death.

  • Have students examine the infographic The Road to the Afterlife Ask: what do you think of when you hear the word "mummy"? What does the process of mummification imply about ancient Egyptian attitudes toward the afterlife? 

  • Introduce students to Kara Cooney’s work with the image gallery on her webpage (link on the Explore more tab).

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class.

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Kara Cooney. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which that they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Kara Cooney shared. Ask: What role did place play in Kara Cooney’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions.

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Kara Cooney use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Kara Cooney talk about today? In what ways does Kara Cooney demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?

ancient Egypt

civilization in northeastern Africa, lasting from 3200 BCE to about 400 CE.


science of the origin, development, and culture of human beings.


box containing the body of a dead person.


artwork usually made by a person not formally trained as an artist.


having to do with money.


person who studies the culture and history of ancient Egypt.


study of ancient Egyptian history, language, religion, and material culture.


ceremonies, rituals, and customs that honor a dead person, before burial or cremation.


having to do with ceremonies surrounding a funeral or burial.


(~1495-1458 BCE) Egyptian pharaoh.


ruler of ancient Egypt.