Celebrating the Contributions of Black Scientists, Inventors, and Engineers

“Freedom Sun(g)” photo by Jennifer Rangubphai taken at The George Washington Carver Museum

Black History Month is celebrated
each February, recognizing the role that African Americans have served in U.S.
History. Generations of African Americans faced relentless adversity and their
achievements often went overlooked. Many African American scientists,
inventors, and engineers developed inventions that helped to advance human
history and to make our lives healthier and happier. Let’s learn more about
some of these amazing black scientists!

One of the most famous black
inventors is George Washington Carver. Carver is often called the Peanut Man,
having developed over 300 products using the peanut! These peanut inventions
include shampoo, shaving cream, animal feed, dyes, and paper! Contrary to
popular belief, Carver did not invent peanut butter. He did help to popularize
peanuts with the American public by encouraging use of peanuts to make soaps,
axle greases, insecticides, medications, glue, and frying oil!  

Mae Jemison was the first African
American woman in space, spending 190 hours, 30 minutes, and 23 seconds in
orbit. Jemison has degrees in chemical engineering, African American studies,
and even a medical doctorate! After Mae Jemison’s career at NASA, she founded
her own company that seeks to develop a love for science in students and helps
to bring cutting-edge technology to underprivileged schools around the world!

“My parents were the best scientists I knew, because they
were always asking questions.” – Mae Jemison

Garrett Morgan was another
trailblazing black inventor. He developed the original traffic signal, a
hair-straightening product, and even the first gas mask! Morgan’s breathing
device, called the “safety hood,” allowed wearers a safe breathing experience
free of smoke, gases, and other pollutants! Originally marketing this breathing
apparatus to fire departments, this gas mask was later built upon to provide
World War I soldiers from the toxic mustard gas being used in warfare. Though
Morgan’s gas mask saved many lives, his business was affected by the racial
discrimination of the time. Many people refused to buy his products due to the
fact he was African American. Morgan’s inventions saved many lives, from
firefighters and soldiers, to all vehicle operators and occupants!

Through education and a passion for
science, these black inventors and many others have greatly contributed to
advancing the life quality of people around the world. STEM education is the
key to unlock a better world, and reaching underrepresented communities draws a
unique perspective. Without black scientists there would be no elevators, air
conditioning, refrigerators, fire extinguishers, or electric light bulbs.  High Touch High Tech’s hands-on, STEM
education model reaches over 16 million students in 11 countries each year. We
pride ourselves on reaching the underrepresented in the STEM fields, and dream
of a world of diverse scientists.

Black History Month

Black History Month

 As we celebrate Black History Month, remember the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout our nation’s history!

Elijah McCoy was born in Canada to parents who were slaves and had escaped slavery by way of the Underground Railroad.  His parents really wanted him to get a good education.  But they could not send him to the United States.  So they saved up enough money to send Elijah to Scotland where he studied engineering.  When he completed his studies he went to the United States, eager to work.  But he was really disappointed.  He tried very hard to get a job as an engineer, but nobody would hire him because he was black. Since he needed money he got a job with the railroad.  His job was to shovel coal into the train engine, then stop the machine and oil it by hand.  He started thinking to himself.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could oil this machine without stopping it?  He needed to oil the machine because when 2 moving objects rub up against each other they produce heat.  Scientists call this “friction.”

Frederick Jones was born in Ohio in 1892 and fought in World War I.   He had over 60 patents, but refrigeration was his specialty!  He recognized a problem.  Farmers would load their vegetables on a truck so that the truck could haul the vegetables to a market.  Sometimes, it was a long haul and the food would spoil.  So he invented a refrigeration system for the truck.





Katherine Johnson,  born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  By thirteen, she was attending the high school on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College. She was a space scientist.  She studied how to steer and direct satellites.



One of HTHT experiments is called, The Real McCoy© So come join us on a fun filled adventure as we discover several very famous African American scientists and learn about their incredible contributions to science! All of  these scientists all had incredible imaginations.  They all had major struggles.  Some of the scientists that we are going to learn about today lived a long time ago.  Some are still alive today.  But they all have several things in common.  They are all African Americans who have overcome obstacles to make significant contributions to the field of science.

Check out our other AWESOME experiments here!

High Touch High Tech, Science Made Fun



Sources: wikipedia.com
Pic Source: google.com

Black History Month


Black History Month is observed in February and the reason that we have Black History Month is so that we can remember the important contributions and achievements that African American’s have brought throughout this Nations history.

One person that thought should be honored this month is Mae Jemison. She was the first African American to be accepted into the astronaut program.  Then, She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

She was interested in science from the time that she was a child. She had good grades in school, continued to learn and grown and was accepted into Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the university in 1977. After graduation, she entered Cornell University Medical College and, during her years there, found time to expand her horizons by studying in Cuba and Kenya and working at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. She received her Medical Degree in 1981 and years later she decided to fulfill a life long dream and apply to the astronaut program.

After spending 190 hours in space and conducting several experiments, Mae Jemison was noted saying…”That society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.”



Source: Pixabay
Sources: Google Pics

Going Where No Woman Has Gone Before: Hidden Figures and Women in STEM

, via Wikimedia Commons”]You’ve probably heard of John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Neil Armstrong, but have you heard of Katherine Johnson?  She was an African American mathematician known as “the human computer” who worked from NASA in 1953. She most notably known for verifying calculations done by new computing technology at the time of John Glenn’s first orbit around the Earth on NASA’s Friendship 7 flight. In fact, Glenn refused to do the mission unless Katherine did his calculations.

, via Wikimedia Commons”]There is a movie currently in theaters called “Hidden Figures” that reveals the hidden history of events we thought we knew so well.  The plot follows the story of Katherine Johnson and her fellow colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. They were all African American women, who helped make the first missions into space a reality. Katherine, Dorothy and Mary all overcame a lack of educational resources, segregation, and gender bias in order to help launch the United States’ first man into Earth’s orbit.   

When Katherine was growing up there was no schooling for African American children past 8th grade.  Given her gifts and aptitude, her parents got her special schooling and she was able to graduate high school at 14. At age 18 she went to West Virginia State College – a historically African American College.  She graduated summa cum laude in 1937.  A couple years later in 1939 she attended West Virginia University not only as one of the first African American students but also the very first woman.  If not for a court ordering the university’s desegregation, she would not have had the opportunity to earn her graduate degree and history might look very different. 

Despite her credentials, her job opportunities were mostly limited to teaching.  She taught school until 1952 when, at a family gathering, a relative mentioned that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was hiring mathematicians.  In 1953, NACA offered Johnson a job in the Guidance and Navigation Department at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. She accepted and became part of the early NASA team. NACA would later become NASA in 1958. 

According to an oral history archived by the National Visionary Leadership Project:

“At first she [Johnson] worked in a pool of women performing math calculations. Katherine has referred to the women in the pool as virtual ‘computers who wore skirts.’ Their main job was to read the data from the black boxes of planes and carry out other precise mathematical tasks. Then one day, Katherine (and a colleague) were temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team. Katherine’s knowledge of analytic geometry helped make quick allies of male bosses and colleagues to the extent that, “they forgot to return me to the pool.” While the racial and gender barriers were always there, Katherine says she ignored them. Katherine was assertive, asking to be included in editorial meetings (where no women had gone before.) She simply told people she had done the work and that she belonged.”

From 1953 through 1958, Johnson worked analyzing topics such as gust alleviation for aircraft. In keeping with state racial segregation laws, and federal workplace segregation rules that were in place at the time, Johnson and the other African-American women in the computing pool were required to work, eat, and use restrooms that were completely separate from those of their white peers. Their office was labeled as “Colored Computers.” In 1958 NASA adopted digital computers and desegregated! 

Johnson worked as an aerospace technologist and even calculated the trajectory for the May 5, 1961 space flight of Alan Shepard. She also calculated the launch window for his 1961 Mercury mission. She plotted backup navigational charts for astronauts in case of electronic failures.

Johnson later worked directly with digital computers. Thanks to her ability and reputation for accuracy, she was able to establish confidence in the new technology. She calculated the trajectory for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. In 1970, Johnson worked on Apollo 13’s mission to the Moon. Once the mission was aborted, her work on backup procedures and charts helped safely return the crew to Earth. Later in her career, she worked on the Space Shuttle program. 

She’s long been recognized as a pioneer for African American women in STEM and in 2015, she was honored by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

, via Wikimedia Commons. “]Katherine Johnson awarded with Presidential Medal of Freedom, on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 by President  Barack ObamaThe month of February is Black History Month! So here at High Touch High Tech we’d like to highlight one of our awesome programs that credits some amazing African American scientists, including Katherine Johnson, called The Real McCoy! Book The Real McCoy at your elementary school and your students will get the chance to experiment with friction like the famous scientist, Elijah McCoy. Then they will get to learn about pollution, scientist Rufus Stokes’ and his appreciation for clean air and a healthy environment. Lastly, the students will get to make an astrolabe (an instrument used for measuring the position of the stars, moons, and planets) just like Katherine Johnson used!

Follow this link to make your reservation today: https://sciencemadefun.net/science-program-reservations.cfm