History

Portrait of Lise Meitner

Students will learn about the professional and personal challenges faced by Lise Meitner and other female physicists in the mid-20th century.

Guide subjects: 
Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
15-45 minutes
In-class time: 
60-120 minutes
The Staff of the Tuskegee Weather Station circa 1944.

In this lesson plan, students will learn about the history of meteorology and about African American weather forecasters of the Tuskegee Weather Detachment that served in the Air Corps during World War II.

Guide subjects: 
Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
20-30 minutes
In-class time: 
45-60 minutes
The National Society of Black Physicists' Logo

This lesson plan introduces students to the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP).

Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
10-15 minutes
In-class time: 
40-60 minutes
Melba Roy Mouton, a computer, in 1960

In this lesson plan, students will learn about the “West Computers” or “West Area Computers” – a group of African-American women who worked as “human computers” at NASA Langley Research Center from the 1940s onward.

Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
15-20 minutes
In-class time: 
90 minutes
Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr.

In this two-part lesson plan, students will learn about the life of theoretical physicist Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr. and string theory, his field of research.

Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
15-20 minutes
In-class time: 
60-80 minutes
Vera Rubin looking through a telescope at Vassar College

Students will learn about the experiences of contemporary women astronomers through profiles assembled in the “She is an Astronomer” survey project. 

Guide subjects: 
Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
15 minutes
In-class time: 
45-90 minutes
Portrait of Anthony M. Johnson

Students will learn about optical physicist and Bell Laboratories alumni Anthony Johnson, while also exploring the phenomenon of total internal reflection.

Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
15-20 minutes
In-class time: 
30-50 minutes
Clockwise from top left: Michael P. Anderson, Ronald E. McNair, Guion S. Bluford Jr., Jeanette J. Epps

Students will learn about four African American astronauts who broke boundaries different ways and in different time periods. 

Guide subjects: 
Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
10-15 minutes
In-class time: 
50-60 minutes
Physicists Herman Branson, ca. 1960s

Students will learn about the historical context of the Civil Rights Movement and how it impacted the physics community by reading two contrasting assessments of the status of African Americans in physics in the 1960s.

Guide subjects: 
Grade level(s): 
9-12
Prep time: 
10-15 minutes
In-class time: 
55 minutes
Anthony Johnson in ultrafast laser lab

Students will research African American scientists who participated in Bell Labs’ Cooperative Research Fellowship Program, and those who worked at Bell Laboratories from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Guide subjects: 
Grade level(s): 
9-12
College
Prep time: 
15-20 minutes
In-class time: 
70-90 minutes

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