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Every Morning in February

During Black History Month, my high school science classroom celebrates the life of a different African-American scientist every morning. Throughout each week, I share the stories of five individuals who have deepened our understanding of science or invented a life-changing commodity.

At the end of the week, I ask my students to identify the theme of the five scientists we studied.  For example, last week we learned about five scientists, three of whom were George Washington Carver, Madam C.J. Walker, and Mary Jackson. After comparing and contrasting the scientists, my students realized that all of these innovators did more than advance science.  They also improved society by using their talents, wealth, or both.

George Washington Carver focused on developing peanut recipes so poor farmers could feed their families.  Madam C.J. Walker donated much of her wealth to the NAACP to move forward the civil rights movement. And Mary Jackson donated her time to the Girl Scouts, mentoring young girls into successful women.

Next week’s scientists include those who were self-taught such as Frederick Jones and Benjamin Banneker.  The study of Black History Month is much more than the discovery and invention that African-Americans mastered.  Black History Month is about the people: their struggles, their accomplishments, and their character.

 

Tara Dale is an ecology and biology teacher at Desert Ridge High School in the Gilbert Unified School District.