Making Things that Change the World: STEAM and the Black Experience

Making Things that Change the World: STEAM and the Black Experience

“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

- George Washington Carver, African-American educator, scientist and inventor

As an educator, you have an important job: to teach students subject matter and thinking skills, while also making sure they have the opportunity to express themselves creatively. When students integrate knowledge with imagination, they can begin to see the world in ways that no one else does, and eventually, change the world in ways that no one else will.

This Black History Month, Newsela is spotlighting black people in the STEAM field: inventors, artists, engineers and other makers who saw things in life “in uncommon ways.” We’ve created a Text Set of articles where students can read up on these inspirational figures. Along with the Text Set, you’ll find eight complete lessons and an activity packet where students can record their work, culminating in an optional research project.

Here are a few of the inspirational figures students will study:

  • Benjamin Montgomery, who designed a potentially lifesaving steamboat propeller but was denied a patent because he was enslaved.

  • Tyree Guyton, a Detroit artist who turned a struggling neighborhood into a color-filled art installation.

  • Akilah Johnson, a high schooler who won a Google contest with her drawing titled “My Afrocentric Life.”

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We’ve designed this Text Set and collection of lessons to provoke student thinking about how STEAM skills can be used to solve the world’s problems. The Text Set also highlights the unbreakable spirit of the black community, which — even in the face of systemic racism and oppression — continues to invent, experiment and chronicle their lives through art, never failing to command the attention of the world.

We encourage you to share your thoughts, feedback and student work with us @Newsela, using the hashtag #BlackHistoryOnNewsela.

Happy Black History Month to you and your students!

 

 

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