Do you need a content related black history month activity for your science class? Look no further! Take a moment to check out the suggestions below:
1. Black History Periodic Table
Creating a Black History Periodic Table not only enriches our understanding of chemistry but also pays homage to the incredible contributions of Black scientists throughout history. To begin this project, students can research and identify pivotal figures in science, such as chemists, physicists, biologists, and inventors, who have made significant impacts. Each element on our Black History Periodic Table will represent a remarkable individual, accompanied by a brief description of their groundbreaking achievements. This initiative not only serves as a unique fusion of science and history but also fosters a sense of inclusivity, shedding light on the diverse and often overlooked voices that have shaped the scientific landscape. By engaging in this creative endeavor, we not only honor the legacy of Black scientists but also inspire a new generation of inquisitive minds.
2. A Timeline of Black Scientists
Another powerful way to honor the contributions of Black scientists is by creating a timeline that showcases their remarkable achievements. This project serves as a dynamic educational tool, allowing students to delve into the rich tapestry of scientific breakthroughs made by individuals of African descent. To begin, students can research and compile a list of notable Black scientists spanning various disciplines, from astronomy to zoology. Then, using historical events and milestones as reference points, they can construct a chronological timeline highlighting key moments in each scientist’s life and career. By visually mapping out these achievements, students gain a deeper appreciation for the invaluable role Black scientists have played in shaping our understanding of the natural world. This collaborative endeavor not only celebrates diversity in science but also fosters a sense of inclusivity and empowerment among students as they recognize the profound impact of these trailblazing individuals.
3. Investigate HeLa Cells
HeLa cells, short for Henrietta Lacks cells, are a line of immortal human cells that have been widely used in scientific research since their discovery in 1951. These remarkable cells were taken from a cervical cancer biopsy obtained from Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who was receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Without Henrietta’s knowledge or consent, her cells were cultured by researcher Dr. George Gey, who observed their unique ability to multiply indefinitely—a quality previously unseen in human cells. This discovery revolutionized biomedical research, as HeLa cells became invaluable tools for studying cell biology, genetics, virology, and countless other fields. However, the story of HeLa cells also raises important ethical questions regarding patient consent, privacy, and the commercialization of biological materials, sparking ongoing discussions about research ethics and the rights of patients.
4. Take a Virtual Field Trip
our science class can embark on an enriching journey through virtual field trips to important sites representing the intersection of Black history and science. Leveraging the power of technology, we can transcend physical boundaries and explore significant locations that highlight the invaluable contributions of Black scientists, inventors, and innovators throughout history. From the laboratories where groundbreaking discoveries were made to museums and institutions dedicated to preserving the legacies of trailblazing figures, these virtual excursions offer a dynamic opportunity to immerse ourselves in the stories and achievements of Black individuals in the scientific community.
Take a look at some options below:
- National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC): Explore the various exhibitions and collections showcasing the history, culture, and contributions of African Americans, including exhibits on science and innovation.
- George Washington Carver National Monument: Take a virtual tour of the birthplace and childhood home of George Washington Carver, a renowned botanist and inventor known for his work with peanuts.
- Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site: Learn about the history and accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces during World War II.
- Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: Explore online exhibits and collections highlighting the African American experience, including contributions to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
- NASA’s Hidden Figures Tour: Discover the untold stories of the African American women mathematicians, known as “human computers,” who played crucial roles in the early days of NASA’s space program.
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Explore digital collections and exhibitions focused on the history, arts, and sciences of people of African descent, including resources related to Black scientists and inventors.
- The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice: Learn about the history of racial injustice in America and the contributions of African Americans to social justice movements, including individuals who have made advancements in science and technology.
- National Civil Rights Museum: Take a virtual tour of this museum located at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Explore exhibits on the Civil Rights Movement and its impact on American history, including contributions from Black scientists and activists.
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Many HBCUs offer virtual tours of their campuses, where you can learn about their rich history, academic programs, and contributions to STEM education.
5. Watch a Movie
A. Hidden Figures
“Hidden Figures” is a captivating film that tells the untold story of three African American women mathematicians—Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—who played pivotal roles at NASA during the Space Race of the 1960s. The movie highlights their remarkable contributions to the success of NASA’s missions, including John Glenn’s historic orbit around the Earth. These women overcame racial and gender discrimination to become instrumental figures in space exploration, using their mathematical skills to solve complex problems and advance scientific research. “Hidden Figures” sheds light on the often overlooked contributions of Black scientists and mathematicians to the field of aerospace engineering and highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. The film serves as a powerful reminder of the talent and perseverance of individuals who have made significant impacts on scientific progress, regardless of their race or gender.
B. Something the Lord Made
“Something the Lord Made” is a poignant film that portrays the true story of the unlikely partnership between two men, surgeon Dr. Alfred Blalock and African American lab technician Vivien Thomas, as they revolutionize the field of cardiac surgery. Set against the backdrop of racial segregation in 1940s America, the movie showcases Thomas’s remarkable intellect and ingenuity as he works alongside Blalock to develop innovative surgical techniques to treat “blue baby syndrome.” Despite facing discrimination and limited opportunities due to his race, Thomas’s expertise and dedication lead to groundbreaking advancements in medical science. “Something the Lord Made” underscores the importance of inclusivity and collaboration in scientific research, demonstrating how individuals from diverse backgrounds can come together to overcome challenges and make significant contributions to healthcare and scientific progress. The film serves as a powerful reminder of the value of recognizing and harnessing the talents of all individuals, regardless of race or social status, in advancing scientific knowledge and improving patient care.
C. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a compelling film based on the true story of William Kamkwamba, a young Malawian boy who overcomes immense challenges to bring electricity to his village during a devastating famine. Using his resourcefulness and ingenuity, William learns about wind turbines from library books and scraps together materials to build his own makeshift turbine. Through trial and error, he harnesses the power of wind to generate electricity, providing his community with a sustainable source of energy for irrigation and electricity. The movie highlights the transformative power of science and technology in addressing real-world problems, as well as the importance of education and innovation in empowering communities to overcome adversity. William’s story serves as a testament to the potential of individuals, especially youth, to leverage scientific knowledge and creativity to improve their lives and the lives of others, demonstrating the vital role of science in driving positive change and sustainable development.