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Black History Month + Engineering Month
February Live Science Shows – In Celebration of Black History Month
During the month of February, come learn more about the stories and contributions of Black scientists as we celebrate Black History Month. Each week, see a new and exciting live science show filled with science demonstrations that are inspired by the work of notable Black scientists. Shows occur daily – weekdays at 12:30pm and weekends at 11:30am and 1:30pm.
Week 1 (Feb 1-7) – Space: Annie Easley
This show features live science demonstrations about rocket science and space exploration, inspired by the work of Annie Easley and other Black scientists who contributed to the fields of astro-engineering and space science.
“But my thing is, if I can’t work with you, I’ll work around you.” – Annie Easely
In 1955, Easely read a story in a local newspaper about twin sisters who worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as “computers.” She applied for a job the next day and was hired two weeks later – one of four African Americans of about 2500 employees. She began her career as a mathematician and computer engineer at the NACA Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory (which became NASA Lewis Research Center, 1958–1999, and subsequently the John H. Glenn Research Center) in Cleveland, Ohio.
Easley’s work with the Centaur project helped lay the technological foundations for future space shuttle launches and launches of communication, military, and weather satellites. Her work contributed to the 1997 flight to Saturn of the Cassini probe, the launcher of which had the Centaur as its upper stage.
Easley was also a budding athlete who founded and subsequently became the first President of the NASA Ski Club and participated in other local ski clubs.
Week 2 (Feb 8-14) – Chemistry: Dr. Marie M. Daly
This show features live science demonstrations about chemical reactions and chemical elements inspired by the work of Dr. Marie Daly and other Black scientists who contributed to the fields of chemistry and genetics.
Daly was the first Black American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry (awarded by Columbia University in 1947).
Labor shortages and the need for scientists to support the war effort enabled Daly to garner fellowships to study at New York University and Columbia University for her master’s and Ph.D. degrees, respectively.
Daly completed a thesis entitled A Study of the Products Formed By the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch to earn her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1947 becoming the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
In 1975, Daly was one of 30 minority women scientists to attend a conference examining the challenges facing minority women in STEM fields.
She is most known for her work with histones, proteins, cholesterol and hypertension, and creatine. She was the first to discover that, “no bases other than adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine were present in appreciable amounts.” This was a discovery she made before the structure and function of DNA was understood. Watson cited Marie Daly’s papers on “The role of ribonucleoprotein in protein synthesis” as contributing to his work in describing the structure of DNA while accepting his Nobel Prize in1962.
Week 3 (Feb 15-21) – Physics: Elmer Imes
This show features live science demonstrations about physics, light, and matter-inspired by the work of Elmer Imes and other Black scientists who contributed to the fields of physics and engineering.
Imes’ work was one of the earliest applications of high-resolution infrared spectroscopy and provided the first detailed spectra of molecules. This led to the development of the field of study of molecular structure through infrared spectroscopy.
Not many Black colleges had physics programs and white colleges did not hire him. As a result, he became a physics consultant and researcher after completing his doctorate; he worked in physics at the Federal Engineers Development Corporation in 1918 and with the Burrows Magnetic Equipment Corporation in 1922.
Imes is credited with the academic development of the physics programs at Fisk. Many of his students went on to obtain doctoral degrees from highly ranked schools such as the University of Michigan. While at Fisk, Imes developed a course in Cultural Physics, to teach students about the history of science. In 1931, Imes was named one of the thirteen most gifted Black Americans.
Week 4 (Feb 22-28) – Engineering: Dr. Mark Dean
This show features live science demonstrations about engineering and technology, inspired by the work of Dr. Mark Dean and other Black scientists who contributed to the field of engineering.
“A lot of kids growing up today aren’t told that you can be whatever you want to be. There may be obstacles, but there are no limits.” – Dr. Mark Dean
Dean was born on March 2, 1957, in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Dean is credited with helping to launch the personal computer age with work that made the machines more accessible and powerful. In 1979, he graduated at the top of his class at the University of Tennessee, where he studied engineering.
Dean is credited with helping develop a number of landmark technologies, including the color PC monitor, the Industry Standard Architecture system bus (allows for computer plug-ins such as disk drives and printers), and the first gigahertz chip.
In 1996, he was named an IBM Fellow, the first African American ever to receive the honor. A year later, he was honored with the Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was tapped to be a member of the National Academy of Engineers.
Source: Adventure Science Center
800 Fort Negley Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37203