African American Inventors Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

In this lesson, students will read a text lesson to learn about African American inventors and their contributions to society. Two activities and a quiz will allow students to demonstrate mastery.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify famous African American inventors
  • explore their inventions
  • discuss their impact on society, then and now


This lesson will take 90 minutes.

Curriculum Standards


Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).


  • paper
  • poster board
  • scissors
  • markers
  • crayons
  • ruler
  • glue stick


Pair students and ask them to brainstorm a widget or contraption they could invent to make the world a better place. Tell them it can be wacky or a real invention.

Provide each pair with paper, and ask them to draw their invention in detail, using any of the writing and drawing tools available. When all pairs have completed their drawings, allow them to share their inventions with the class.

Ask students if they know of any African American inventors. Then tell them they are going to learn about a few African American inventors and their impact on our lives today. Distribute Famous African American Inventors: Inventions & Names, and ask students to read through it independently.

Then pose the following discussion questions:

  • Which invention do you believe was more profound; why?
  • Why do you believe African Americans were restricted in introducing their inventions and creativity to society?
  • Define a patent. Describe how patents affected slaves and freedmen.
  • Based on the lesson, in which industries did African Americans make contributions? In your response, identify the inventors and their contributions.

Distribute the lesson quiz. You may choose to complete as a class, or allow students to complete it independently, in pairs, or in groups.

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