Does Science? An Exploration
of Minority Scientists, Physicians and Inventors
to the Teacher:
As science teachers we sometimes struggle to help our students
understand that historically there have been many women and
people of all ethnicities who have done the work of science.
This project was originally designed to highlight African-American
scientists, and the students completed the project in February
(Black History Month). But I have expanded the project to include
a variety of minority scientists and I do the project at the
beginning of the year. The intention is that students will start
the year understanding that our knowledge of the living world
is based on the work of a huge number of scientists from many
different ethnic groups and of both genders. In addition, throughout
the year, the bulletin board outside my classroom features a
weekly poster of a scientist. The scientists represent an array
of ethnicities and both genders. Tests and quizzes ask questions
about this scientist, so students get very interested in making
sure they read the poster.
Note: This project is very “low-tech”
except for the use of the internet for research. A teacher could
adapt the final product, however. Instead of a poster presentation,
the students could create a PowerPoint presentation or create
a brochure about their scientists.
The list of scientists at the end of the student instructions
has been carefully researched to ensure that there is ample
information about them on the internet.
National Science Education Standard:
This activity meets the following NSES standard, but it also
addresses the growing concern that students realize that science
is an endeavor carried out by a great variety of people. This
specific activity is designed for use in a biology class but
could be adapted for any other science focus.
History and Nature of Science
CONTENT STANDARD G: As a result of activities in grades 9-12,
all students should develop understanding of
- Science as a human endeavor
- Nature of scientific knowledge
- Historical perspectives
There are many books that highlight minority scientists and
physicians. Perhaps your school library would be willing to
purchase some of them. A source for some of these books is Amazon.com.
Below are some useful, active (as of August 2004) websites.
However, given the nature of the Internet, they should be checked
periodically. Some of these websites have links that might be
Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences
American Scientists Bibliography (California Academy of Science Library)
University Medical Center Library
Center for Education & Equity
in Mathematics, Science, & Technology (CEEMaST)
for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
of Women in Science
Institution of Washington - First Light
National Library of Medicine Changing the Face of Medicine
An Exploration of Minority Scientists, Physicians and Inventors
The purpose of this project is help students learn about the
many minority scientists and inventors who have contributed
to our scientific body of knowledge and to the well-being of
all people. The focus is on people who studied biology and/or
medicine, but there are some other scientists included.
- Poster board
- Internet connection
Introduction to the Student:
A great variety of scientists have contributed to our body of
knowledge about biology. Sometimes textbooks make it seem as
if only a few scientists have been involved in the work of biological
investigation but in fact, men and women from all over the world
have researched and explored our natural world to try and understand
how living things function. They have also searched for answers
to human diseases and disorders and have invented devices to
improve human health. This project is designed to help you learn
about just a few of these interesting people.
STEP 1 - Research: You will research one scientist from the
list that has been provided. Each student will research a different
person. The internet will give you adequate information on each
of the people listed; however, you should find at least two
different sources. Be sure to keep track of the information
you need for your bibliography. Try to find out the following
facts about your scientists.
- Birth and possibly death dates.
- Ethnicity and gender.
- Where the person grew up and what their early life was like.
- Where the person went to school and what he or she studied.
- How they became a scientist.
- What their area of research or their contribution was/is.
STEP 2 - Project: After you get all of your information, you
will prepare a “proposal” supporting your scientist
for selection as Time Magazine Man or Woman
of the Year. Your proposal should include:
- Basic biographical facts about your scientist – birth
and death dates, place of birth, childhood experiences, education,
career pathway, etc.
- A picture (scanned, downloaded, or hand-drawn).
- A list of reasons why this person should be given recognition
on the cover of Time Magazine. (What
significant contributions has this person made?)
You will present your project in the form of a poster advertisement.
Your advertisement should include your proposed design for the Time Magazine cover showing the scientist
you researched. Paste your bibliography to the back of the poster.
Make sure your name is in the lower right hand corner of your
You will be evaluated on the following:
- Accuracy of information
- Depth of research
- Creativity of poster
Following is a list of scientists to research. (AA
= African American)
laserphacoprobe for cataracts
AA female surgery resident in south
AA female intern Harlem Hosp
and medical education
AA female to estab. med practice in PA
AA female in American College of Surgeons
preservation of blood plasma
Native American, Hopi
U.S. Surgeon General
device for invalids
and inventor (curing meat)
physician and good samaritan
Med Sch – syphilis test
AA female in space, physician
– glaucoma research
researcher, graduated from Dartmouth
AA DVM - veterinarian
AA graduate nurse
research - army
and CFC effects in environment – Nobel Prize
AA female PhD in bacteriology
including gas mask
started hospital, uncle to Paul Robeson
– detoxifying enzyme genetics
only black veterinarian school-Tuskegee
Y Cajal, Santiago
AA director CDC – U.S. Surgeon General
– army integration
AA grad NY state med. sch.
(folic acid, tetracycline, antimalaria)
AA female army nurse
biology teacher, professor, entomology
biology, professor neurology
open heart surgery pioneer
AA female assoc. dean major med. sch.
mentor was Ernest Just