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Copyright 2002 Gerri Gribi ||| Email ||| Updated 08/07/15
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Math & Science

1. Web Sites: Biographies, patents, a chance to chat with NASA experts and more.

2. Lesson Plans

3. Books & Magazines

4. Videos: Most with guides

Web Sites

African American Inventors Database

Black inventors are listed alphabetically. Each listing includes the patent numbers assigned to the invention, the date issued, and a description of the invention as written by the inventor. Where available, links are provided to articles and biographies.

Black Inventor Online Museum

More than 60 inventors are presented with biographical information and images.

National Society of Black Engineers

Career information, scholarships, and more.

African American Astronauts

Former, current and candidates.

African American Lives

This series is a journey into the past, using science to unravel the genealogy of 9 prominent African Americans. Resources include DNA lesson plans.

The Faces of Science: African Americans

Nearly 100 historical and contemporary figures. Indexed alphabetically by name, by field and by profession. Includes a profile of black women scientists, and a section on First Science Ph.D.s awarded to African Americans. Includes references for the sources. Despite the title not all entries include a "face", but many do.

Educator's Guide to "Follow the Drinking Gourd"

The spiritual "Follow the Drinking Gourd" provided precise directions for slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. This site explores the song and it's relationship to astronomy.

Mathematicians of the African Diaspora

This site is a goldmine of information. Among other things it includes:

The Benjamin Banneker Association

"The Benjamin Banneker Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization of individuals and groups concerned about the mathematics education of African-American children. It was founded in 1986 to provide a forum for mathematics educators, mathematicians, and other interested people to discuss the learning and teaching of mathematics to African-American children." Newsletters, workshops and lectures, and Teacher Awards.

Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study Resources at the University of Virginia

From elementary school on, we're taught that "science" is color-blind. The Tuskegee study raises serious questions about that...questions which continue today. Beginning in the 1930s, 399 men signed up with the U.S. Public Health Service for free medical care. The service was conducting a study on the effects of syphilis on the human body. The men were never told they had syphilis, and were denied access to treatment, even for years after penicillin came into use in 1947. By the time the study was exposed in 1972, 28 men had died of syphilis, 100 others were dead of related complications, at least 40 wives had been infected and 19 children had contracted the disease at birth.

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Lesson Plans

A Mathematical Investigation Using the Work of Lewis Howard Latimer.
Grades 6-8
Does not require student internet access

An activity combining history and algebra.

Jefferson-Hemings DNA Testing: An On-line Resource

Created by "Monticello, Home of Thomas Jefferson" this site provides links to research information both at the site and elsewhere.

Following the Thread
PBS, African American Lives
Grade Level: 9-12

In this lesson, students will learn about genetic lineages and will explore the different DNA tests (admixture, mtDNA, y-chromosome) that are used in the series AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES. Using segments of the broadcast series and the online activity "The Science and the Investigators," they will discover how advances in the field of population genomics let researchers trace genetic markers in groups of people. By tracing ancestry using genealogical charts, students will explore what these genetic tests can -- and cannot -- reveal about our origins.


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Books & Magazines

NSBE Bridge. Published three times a year by the National Society of Black Engineers.

"Getting youngsters involved in math and sciences at an early age is key to society's long-term success. NSBE Bridge addresses this need by introducing pre-college kids to all technology has to offer. Interactive experiments, college information and cultural "stuff" make the NSBE Bridge a must-read! "

Holmes, Keith C. Black Inventors: Crafting over 200 years of success. Global Black Inventors Research Projects Inc. Brooklyn NY 2008.

Inspired by the pioneering work of Henry E. Baker, an African American patent examiner at the turn of the 20th Century, this book is unusual in that it includes black patent holders and trademark owners from around the world. Entries include the inventor's location and dates of activity plus a general description of the work patented, a few also include biographical information. The material presented here obviously took a lot of digging and students can use the book with internet resources to discover further biographical information and add to the knowledge base.

Naden, Corinne J. and Rose Blue. Mae Jemison: Out of This World. Brookfield Ct: Millbrook Press, 2003. Grades 2-5. Read more at

In addition to biographical information about America's first black female astronaut, this inviting book presents ample pictures and background information which younger children will find fascinating.

Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America, Volume XI: Science, Health & Medicine. Edited by Darlene C. Hine and Kathleen Thompson. Facts on File 1997. Middle School - Adult. Read more at

Sullivan, Otha Richard. Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors. New York: Wiley, 2002. Middle School Read more at

Thirty highly-readable, engaging profiles ranging from early inventors to contemporary scientists and mathemticians. Includes personal, candid interviews which children will find illuminating and inspiring.

Sullivan, Otha Richard. Black Stars: African American Inventors. New York: Wiley, 1998. Middle School Read more at

Accounts of more than 25 inventors who achieved despite racial obstacles.

Parker John P. , Stuart Seely Sprague, Editor. His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker. NY: Norton, 1996. Read more at

A riveting book by former slave who, having bought his way out of slavery, settled in Ripley Ohio and risked his life helping other slaves escape. John Parker was also an entreprenuer and inventor who owned the Ripley Foundary and Machine Company, a middle-class African American like so many others we rarely hear about in the history books.

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The Underground Railroad: Connections to Freedom and Science. DVD. Produced by NASA, 1999. 34 minutes, grades 6-12. $16, available from NASA Core Catalog.

"Slaves traveling the Underground Railroad, usually on foot, depended on celestial navigation to find their way northward. They continually looked to the Big Dipper and the North Star for direction. The purpose of this video is to increase student awareness of the Underground Railroad and the role celestial navigation played in the Railroad's success. The video also highlights the importance of modern Global Information System technology in reconstructing historical topographies and finding the exact route of the Railroad. By combining amazing historical facts-such as the use of handmade quilts for communication with mathematics, remote-sensing technology, earth system science, and astronomy, the video presents an educational experience that is dynamic, moving and broadly cross curricular."

The Life of George Washington Carver DVD 60 minutes. Middle School- Adult.

George Washington Carver (c. 1864-1943) was born into slavery just before the Civil War. After earning his master's degree from Iowa State College, he became the Director of Agricultural Research at the Tuskeegee Institute. A creative chemist and botanist, he dedicated his life to improving the lot of poor farmers in the South.

Jefferson's Blood (Frontline)

"Now, the certainty of scientific evidence tells us that Jefferson and Hemings indeed did have a sexual relationship, and that the two had several children together." This PBS site provides a synopis, transcript and teacher's guide for the Frontline program about the DNA evidence surrounding Jefferson's children with Sally Hemings. But the guide goes beyond science and explores issues of race as well.

Partners of the Heart PBS Home Video 2003. Available at

"In 1944, two men at Johns Hopkins University Hospital pioneered a groundbreaking procedure that would save thousands of so-called blue babies' lives. One of them, Alfred Blalock, was a prominent white surgeon. The other, Vivien Thomas, was an African American with a high school education. Blalock recognized Thomas' talents when the younger man came inquiring after a hospital janitor's job. But though Blalock came to treat Thomas with tremendous respect in the lab, the two men were rarely treated as equals in the outside world. Over time, Thomas would go on to train two generations of the country's premier heart surgeons. In 1976, more than three decades after the first blue baby's life had been saved, Johns Hopkins finally formally recognized Thomas' extraordinary achievements, awarding him an honorary doctorate." Visit the PBS Website for related resources and lesson guides.

Also: Emmy awarding winner Something the Lord Made, HBO 2004. Available at

Race: The Power of an Illusion 3 hours. Grades 10 and up

This compelling 3-part series opens with a group of high school students who are exploring their assumptions about race, comparing their DNA, and discovering (much to their surprise) that there is no biological basis for the concept of "race." It then goes on to examine how and why the concept of "race" was invented, its historical implications and how it effects society today. The PBS web site provides background readings, lesson plans, discussion guides and other resources.

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