Our modern world has been shaped by so many Black scientists, mathematicians, doctors, inventors, and other trailblazers in STEM. This Black History Month, let’s honor their achievements, reflect on their legacies, and celebrate those creating the future.
To name just a few: we have GPS technology, personal computers, numerous medicines and medical discoveries, traffic lights, and expansive space exploration because of their brilliant ideas and hard work.
Thanks to people like Percy Julian, Katherine Johnson, Robert Robinson and more, the world is a better place year-round, and their remarkable accomplishments deserve recognition. Plus, there are so many Black leaders in tech making history at this very moment!
In this guide to STEM activities for Black History Month, kids will explore the fascinating stories and thinking behind the breakthroughs. Plus, they'll use today’s tech to learn about other key events and historical figures.
STEM Activities that Celebrate Black History Month
And what better way to encourage kids to follow in their footsteps than with an activity in these innovators’ honor? These 16 activities have something for all ages and experience levels and explore a range of disciplines. Let’s dive in!
Leverage the power of technology to explore the past and engage with the present!
1. Black History Month Online Scavenger Hunt
This interactive site has scavenger hunts for kids in 4th-9th grades and takes users on a journey through Black History. They’ll learn about historical figures like Jesse Owens, Sojourner Truth, Mary Terrell, and more as they sharpen their online researching skills.
2. George Washington Carver Live Lab & Craft
Ideal for the youngest budding scientists, this fun craft will teach all about the man who invented peanut butter. This craft can be done as a stand-alone activity or paired with suggested children’s books and YouTube video enrichment.
Older kids will enjoy watching this rare, live color footage of Washington in his lab. As a bonus, follow up learning about this renowned botanist with a nutty treat!
3. 3D Print or Draw Adinkra Symbols
Kids can learn about Ghanese culture and create beautiful works of art with a techy twist. They can 3D print these amazing designs, or take a bonus opportunity to practice their geometry skills by hand-drawing them.
4. Build a microphone like Dr. James West
Co-inventor of the microphone Dr. James West created the technology that’s still used by over 90% of cameras today. In this easy DIY activity, kids can step into his shoes and build their own microphones using everyday household items.
5. Take a Virtual Tour of the Harlem Renaissance Era
Students may have heard of Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington, but what about Gwendolyn Bennett or James Van der Zee? The Virtual Harlem Project provides an interactive platform for exploring New York during the time period and learning all about the writers, artists, musicians, and thinkers that defined this pivotal cultural movement.
6. Unlock the Secrets of the Universe with Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist, author, and living legend Neil deGrasse Tyson is, in this blogger’s humble opinion, the single greatest spokesperson for science who has ever lived (sorry, David Attenborough, you’re a close second).
Neil deGrasse Tyson explains complex concepts and phenomena in layman's terms, making programs like Cosmos and Star Talk both accessible and fascinating. Watching and discussing any of his programs or books would make a wonderful family activity!
7. Experiment with chemist Percy Julian
Not only was Percy Julian the first scientist to synthesize a chemical compound, he was a major civil rights activist. His discovery paved the way for staples of 21st century life. For an advanced look into the impact of his breakthrough, high school students can virtually synthesize Aspirin in this activity.
8. Check out this podcast series about Black scientists
From Robert Robinson, Jamaican American engineer and 43-year prisoner of the Soviet Union, to the pioneering Black women of NASA, this podcast series makes for great listening and an eye-opening glimpse into their lives and contributions to science.
9. Virtually Explore the Alabama Civil Rights Trail
This app (virtually) walks users through the landmarks and events that shaped the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.
10. Build like Mark Dean, co-inventor of the personal computer
It’s hard to imagine 2021 without them, right? Celebrate Mark Dean’s groundbreaking invention by learning how computers work. Here is a low tech computer-building paper activity, and kids can take things up a notch with these hands-on kits.
11. Debate Bioethics and learn about Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks’ cells have been used for decades of cancer research, and while they helped spur discoveries, they were taken without her permission. Oprah Winfrey recently made a film about her story, which remains a subject of ethical debate in medicine.
12. “Green Light” Activity
13. Explore Holograms and Afrofuturism with Black Panther
Fact and fiction combine in this awesome STEM unit based on the action-packed film Black Panther. Students will learn about the Afrofuturist literary movement, see familiar superhero faces, and learn about the coolest tech.
14. Meet Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space
Check out this awesome, inspirational interview with a groundbreaking astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison. In her words, “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”
15. Watch and discuss Hidden Figures
This powerful film tells the true stories of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, trailblazing women at NASA who brought America to the moon. Once you’ve watched, check out these extension activities.
16. Track GPS Technology
Celebrate Black History Month with Tech Today!
As a field and an industry, technology has a long way to go to become more diverse and inclusive. iD Tech wants to change that, and you can help! We can’t wait to hear about how your explorations turn out.