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Black History Month: Recognizing African-American Scientists and Inventors

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

We're celebrating Black History Month this year by highlighting African-American scientists and inventors. Each Friday at 11 a.m. this month, we'll discuss these groundbreaking people during our Curiosity L!VE series on Instagram. Learn more about the program here.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was a botanist, inventor, and teacher. He invented over 300 uses for the peanut and developed methods to prevent soil depletion. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen in their soils by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanuts, soybeans, and cowpeas). These crops both restored nitrogen to the soil and were good for human consumption! Learn more about him during our Curiosity Live from February 4, 2022.

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer was an inventor and draftsman best known for his contributions to the patenting of the light bulb and the telephone. In addition to assisting others, Latimer designed a number of his own inventions, including an improved railroad car bathroom and an early air conditioning unit. He was the only African-American member of Thomas Edison's engineering laboratory. Learn more about him during our Curiosity Live from February 11, 2022.

George Robert Carruthers

George Robert Carruthers was an inventor, physicist, engineer, and space scientist. He perfected a compact and very powerful ultraviolet camera for NASA to use when it launched Apollo 16 in 1972. He designed it so astronauts could use it on the lunar surface, making all adjustments inside their bulky space suits. They used the camera to record the Earth's outermost atmosphere and also mapped portions of the far-ultraviolet sky recording stars and galaxies. Learn more about him during our Curiosity Live from February 18, 2022.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Dr. Ayana Ezliabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, and writer. She is founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm that helps find ocean conservation solutions grounded in social justice. She has conducted research on the bycatch impacts in Caribbean coral reef trap fisheries and has also collaborated on research for reducing the impacts of climate change on small island states. Learn more about her during our Curiosity Live from February 25, 2022.

Interested in learning about more about African-American history? Join us for our Planetarium Special Feature: Stars and Stories of Africa on Thursday, February 24th, 2022 for the 6 or 7pm showing. We'll travel the cosmos to learn more about the ancient Kush people, exactly what the Kenyan Borana Star Calendar was, and identify the Swahili names for the planets. You'll get to hear African folklore stories and even discover how enslaved African Americans were able to follow the stars to freedom in the north.


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