African American Scientists

African American Scientists Image Credit: NASA - JSC


What do you picture when you think of a scientist? Someone in a white coat working in a lab? Did you know that scientists do work in all sorts of environments and situations and that many different kinds of people are scientists? The activities in this lesson will help you learn more about what scientists do by exploring the careers of prominent African Americans in science, mathematics, and technology.


Dr. Mae Jemison's curiosity and energy led her to learn about many things. She loved to read but also danced, acted in school plays, and was even elected to her school government. One incident that happened when she was 12, though, encouraged Mae to make a promise to herself. During that time, there were civil rights demonstrations near her neighborhood in Chicago. To prevent protests before an important political meeting, the mayor of Chicago called in the National Guard. As the National Guard marched through Mae's mostly African-American neighborhood, she was frightened. After that incident, she promised herself to never be that frightened again. She realized that she was just as much as part of the US as the Guardsmen.

Read Mae C. Jemison: Astronaut, Physician on the Faces of Science: African Americans in Science website to learn more about this doctor's inspiring journey.

For this project, you will do research on the accomplishments of an African American scientist, mathematician, inventor, or engineer. Use this website for your research:

The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences

Research as many different scientists as you have time for. Make sure that you visit links from at least five different professional categories. As you research, make a list of the people and their profession. As you are reading about the scientists, take notes about the ones whose lives and careers interest you the most. In the next section, you will be asked to choose one person to research further and present on.

Knowledge Check

After you have explored the websites, select one of the scientists that you have read about and prepare a poster to present to the class. In addition to the websites you have viewed, you should select at least one book or article from the library. Use the African American Scientists student sheet to help with your research. This student sheet will be collected with your project.

This esheet is a part of the African Americans in Science lesson.

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