ALEX Lesson Plan


African-American Scientists and Inventors

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Linda Tisdale
System: Huntsville City
School: Monte Sano Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 6969


African-American Scientists and Inventors


Besides George Washington Carver, what other African-Americans made contributions to American life? The class will explore the careers of famous and not-so-famous African-American scientists and inventors. Also, they will plan and present a slideshow on five of these individuals and explain why each is significant.
 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Information Literacy
IL (1998)
Grade: K-12
1 ) The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.

•  Recognizes the need for information.
•  Recognizes that accurate and comprehensive information is the basis for intelligent decision making.
•  Formulates questions based on information needs.
•  Identifies a variety of potential sources of information.
•  Develops and uses successful strategies for locating information.
Information Literacy
IL (1998)
Grade: K-12
8 ) The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and practices ethical behavior in regard to information and information technology.

•  Respects the principles of intellectual freedom.
•  Respects intellectual property rights.
•  Uses information technology responsibly.
Information Literacy
IL (1998)
Grade: K-12
9 ) The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and participates effectively in groups to pursue and generate information.

•  Shares knowledge and information with others.
•  Respects others' ideas and backgrounds and acknowledges their contributions
•  Collaborates with others, both in person and through technologies, to identify information problems and to seek their solutions.
•  Collaborates with others, both in person and through technologies to design, develop, and evaluate information products and solutions.
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 6-8
2 ) Publish digital products that communicate curriculum concepts.

Examples: Web pages, videos, podcasts, multimedia presentations

Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 6-8
5 ) Use basic features of word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and presentation software.

Examples: word processing—reports, letters, brochures

-  spreadsheets—discovering patterns, tracking spending, creating budgets

-  databases—contact list of addresses and telephone numbers

-  presentation software—slideshow

Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 6-8
6 ) Select specific digital tools for completing curriculum-related tasks.

Examples: spreadsheet for budgets, word processing software for essays, probes for data collection

Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 6-8
9 ) Practice responsible and legal use of technology systems and digital content.

Examples: avoiding plagiarism; complying with acceptable-use policies, copyright laws, and fair use standards; recognizing secure Web sites

•  Identifying examples of computer crime and related penalties
Examples: computer crime—phishing, spoofing, virus and worm dissemination, cyberbullying

-  penalties—fines, incarceration

•  Citing sources of digital content
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 6-8
11 ) Use digital tools and strategies to locate, collect, organize, evaluate, and synthesize information.

Examples: locating—Boolean searches, graphic organizers, spreadsheets, databases

-  collecting—probeware, graphing calculators

-  organizing—graphic organizers, spreadsheets

-  evaluating—reviewing publication dates, determining credibility

-  synthesizing—word processing software, concept-mapping software

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will demonstrate a knowledge of different African-American scientists and inventors by creating a slideshow presentation. Students will utilize technology to conduct research and present findings.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Each student must have a journal, blank storyboards, and handouts (see attached).

Technology Resources Needed:

Classroom computer with Internet access, LCD projector or TV scan converter, computer lab with Internet access, word processing and/or desktop publishing software (optional), presentation software, floppy disk(s)


Students should have a working knowledge of computers to include Internet searches, slideshow presentations with transitions, and inserted picture/clip art.
1.)Teacher will introduce the lesson by telling a brief story about a little known African-American scientist. The teacher may want to do a retelling or read it from a hard copy or a website using the computer projector. Time should be spent discussing the importance of scientific discovery and invention to everyday life and society.

2.)After a class discussion about famous African-American scientists and inventors, take the students to the computer lab to research one of interest. The teacher should provide an information sheet for each student to fill in the information they find(see attachment). This step should be done in one trip to the computer lab unless the students need an introduction to the Internet.
(The Faces of Science:)
This website explores a great number of African American scientists and inventors. It divides them by specialty as well as notes gender.

3.)Students will meet back in the classroom and share their findings with the class through class discussion and a question/answer session.

4.)The teacher will explain about plagiarism and review the elements of good writing. The students will then take the information collected and write a quality paragraph about the one inventor/scientist they researched.

5.)Each student will be compile a list of five African-American inventors or scientists about which to make a slide show scrapbook for presentation to the class. The students must have access to library resources including biographies or other books and may research Internet websites. The teacher may allow library or computer lab time for this component, or provide a weekend and assign this portion as homework. Help should be made available before and/or after school. Preferably, students should not choose the same inventors or common ones such as George Washington Carver to present. (Class sizes and total number of students may require some duplicates.)

6.)After the teacher has approved each student's list, students are given a handout of the requirements for the assignment (see criteria attachment).

7.)Typically, one class period is dedicated to discussing presentation techniques and showing sample presentations from previous years to the students. The teacher should have the classroom ready for the presentations by having all equipment properly connected and tested prior to the students' arrival. By using a projection device, the class can see the slideshow as it appears on the computer screen (see attachment for sample slide show).

8.)Students will fill in the slideshow storyboard to determine how their presentation will look. By completing a storyboard, the teacher can make suggestions and answer questions prior to the student going to the computer lab. Allow students to share their storyboards with peers for feedback and constructive criticism (see attached storyboard).

9.)The lesson culminates with the student presentations. Students are graded using the attached rubric. Allow peers to use rubrics to score student presentations.

10.)Following is a link to an extension activity on related topics that allows further practice with the Internet or other multimedia.
(Treasures of African-American History)
An Internet search activity for students while studying African-American history.

11.)Due to high interest in inventions, the teacher may sometimes want to add an activity involving the preparation of invention brochures. In this assignment each student selects one invention and explains how it works. This reinforces informational writing and practice with word processing software. Design and layout of a brochure can also be taught or reviewed with the use of this extension exercise. I have included a sample rubric in the attachments section to illustrate what to look for when assigning the optional brochure.

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Assessment Strategies

The teacher will use rubrics (see attachment) and student interviews to assess student knowledge. Students will engage in peer reviews to help each other edit and improve their work prior to teacher's final assessment.


Students who excel in the use of technology tools and resources may exceed project requirements or serve as peer helpers. Also, they may want to produce a broadcast, develop a trivia game using information learned, or any other related activity that would encourage others to explore scientists, inventors or inventions.



Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.