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Famous African American Scientists: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Many of the things you use in daily life were created by African American scientists. In this lesson, learn about some significant African American scientists, and learn how their discoveries and accomplishments have improved the lives of others.

Bright Ideas

Thanks to scientists, we enjoy many conveniences that make everyday life much easier. There have been many African American scientists who have made significant discoveries and impressive accomplishments. Let's learn about some of these outstanding scientists!

George Washington Carver

Do you like peanuts? You've probably not given much thought to eating these for a quick snack, but peanuts were pretty important to a scientist named George Washington Carver. Around 1864, his life started out very dramatically. When he was nearly a week old he was kidnapped, along with his mother and sister! While they were sold back into slavery, George grew up in a white home and was educated by the mistress of the household.

In college, George studied various fields of science, including botany, which is the study of plants and how they grow. He conducted experiments on different kinds of plants, and found new ways of using plants, like peanuts and soybeans. He was also an inventor, and he created many things, including special types of dyes and gasolines.

George Washington Carver was an inventor and scientist who studied botany.
inventor

George Carruthers

Do you ever look to the sky and wonder about outer space? George Carruthers did that, too. He was so curious as a child, that by age ten he had built his own telescope. He went through high school and college maintaining this fascination with space, and eventually earned his doctorate degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

He worked for organizations that researched technology to help explore areas of outer space. He developed inventions that used ultraviolet light to capture space images, and one invention was sent on the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. George knew that education was important, so he created a program where high school students could spend a summer working with famous scientists.

George Carruthers created inventions that were sent into space.
inventor

Mae Jemison

If someone becomes a doctor, that's impressive. But what about being a doctor and an astronaut? That's exactly what Mae Jemison did. After graduating with a degree in medicine, she traveled around the world as a medical officer for a group known as the Peace Corps. This is a group of volunteers that work for the United States government to help others around the world.

As if these accomplishments weren't enough, Mae went on to become the first African American woman in space. She was part of the mission on the spaceship Endeavor, and she spent almost 200 days in space. During her mission, she conducted medical research in outer space.

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