This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
African American Scientists
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Students should understand what a biography is and be able to search Internet sites for information.

Materials: Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

-- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
-- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
-- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
-- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

Bookmark the following sites on your classroom computer(s) or in the computer lab:

  • Garrett Morgan

    This is an educational Web site for kids about American History. Check out the cute "Kentucky Tales" story. This site might be too elementary for the eighth grade but is perfect for younger grades learning stories in history.

  • Yahooligans

    Yahoo!'s search engine for kids is a great place to start any research project. Help your students through a search for African American scientists and inventors by going to the Yahooligans' homepage and choosing Science & Nature --> Scientists --> Inventors. That will give you a list of Inventors including Lewis Latimer. For astronauts, follow this path: The Earth --> Space --> Human Spaceflight --> Astronauts (Robert McNair can be found on this page). For the others, type the name of the person in the search box and it will look for sites about that person.

  • The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences.

    Here's another great resource for information about African American Scientists. Split up by time period and field of study, this site includes Elijah McCoy, Mae C. Jemison, Madame C. J. Walker, and Annie Easley.

  • Honoring African American Astronauts

    NASA sponsors this online exhibit of 13 African American astronauts. It offers bios of each person as well as other useful links.


Time Allotment:
A minimum of three class periods for approximately 50 minutes each.

  • The worksheet, in Organizers for Students is an introduction to this lesson on African Americans in Science. Hand it out and have your students use the bookmarks provided above to answer the questions.

  • After the class has had a chance to research the list of scientists and inventors on the Web, students should choose one person to focus their research on. When they have chosen one person from the list, have each student find specific information on that person's life, inventions, and accomplishments. Have your students take notes in the Research Log located in Organizers for Students. They should be focusing on two things while doing their research:

    1. Personal information that would be appropriate to use in a journal entry for this scientist. (See Step 3.)

    2. Historical information about the place and time this person lived and worked. Gather facts about the field of science in which this person succeeded. Keep in mind that you will be using this information to present your scientist in a round-table discussion.

  • Divide the students into two groups. Have one group research in the library for the first half of the class while the other researches on the Web. The groups should switch for the second half of the class giving each student a chance to research on both the Internet and the library.

  • Have your students write a journal entry from the viewpoint of the scientist that they have chosen, based on their research. In their entries, they should describe what they imagine the scientist was doing on the day that he/she experienced a pivotal event. Students should describe how the scientist might have felt and what they might have thought at the time.

    Give your students questions to think about as they do their research and write their entries.

    • What did this person contribute to the world of science?

    • What time period in history did this person live? How did the time and place effect his/her accomplishments?

    • Did race or ethnicity play a role in his/her success/failure?

  • If students have time, have them draw and create visual aids for their presentations.

  • Have your students present the scientists they have chosen to the entire class through a speech and a poster. They should come to class ready to share three major inventions/contributions to science. They should be ready to share the difficulties and experiences they've had as an African American scientist. You many suggest that students could come into class dressed as the scientist on the day of their presentations.


Students could go to the Web site and use the Puzzlemaker feature to create a puzzle of all the scientists they have studied during this lesson.

They could also make a puzzle of all the products that George Washington Carver made out of peanuts. These products can be found at the Web site

Social Studies: Numerous other African American scientists can be found at the following web site Students could choose one of these to create a poster or a report on one or more of these scientists.


One Computer in the Classroom
If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

Several Computers in the Classroom
Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked site.

You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

Using a Computer Lab
A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students