Recognize Brilliant STEM Minds this Black History Month

Join us this Black History Month in recognizing brilliant STEM minds and their ongoing contributions and impacts to everyday life by:

Exploring virtual resources for celebrating Black scientists, engineers, and innovators, past, present, and future
Discovering incredible organizations in our region working to empower Black youth
Learning ways you can support Black voices in our community.

We encourage you to also share with us resources and ideas for how PacSci can further our commitment to racial justice each and every day of the year. Follow us on social media as we highlight Black STEM professionals throughout the year.

Celebrate with Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)

Have you ever thought about how math, design, culture, and art are related? Seattle artist, designer, and engineer Christopher Shaw explores these concepts in his Algorithm: Archetype exhibition, which you can visit virtually on NAAM’s website. While you’re there, tune in to the Interactive Storytime virtual program about Black history on February 13, at 1 p.m. Art, history, and culture have shaped the way we think about and practice science for hundreds of years. What are some ways they impact how you think about science?

Throughout February, NAAM is hosting multiple Black History Month virtual and in-person events, including:

A Conversation with the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution: February 17, 5 p.m. – Hosted by moderator Dr. Quintard Taylor, hear from NAAM’s keynote speaker Lonnie Bunch, the nation’s first African American Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in its 173-year history. Bunch was founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch will discuss the past, present, and future of Black history. This is virtual, free, and open to the public.
Virtual Screening of Blood Brothers: February 23, 2:30 p.m. – NAAM is partnering with the Heinz History Center in their screening of Blood Brothers, a Netflix film about the friendship between icons Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. The film screening will be followed by a talk back with the film’s director Marcus Clarke. This event is hosted and presented by the Heinz History Center of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is virtual, free, and open to the public.
NAAM Night at the Sounders Soccer Match: February 27, 5 p.m. – In celebration of African American athletic achievement, NAAM partnered with RAVE Foundation and Seattle Sounders FC at their opening season home match. NAAM will feature a popup exhibition on Black history and art of the Pacific Northwest. NAAM will also distribute children’s books and soccer balls in partnership with the RAVE Foundation. Lastly, NAAM’s African American Cultural Ensemble will sing the Black National Anthem at the start of the match. Discounted ticket prices are available and a portion of those ticket sales will be donated to NAAM to support NAAM’s educational programming.

Explore Black scientists’ breakthroughs with hands-on activities

What do ant behavior, moon travel, and large carnivores all have in common? They each have a Black scientist working to learn more about them and propel these STEM fields forward. Download this month’s featured activities at Curiosity at Home and learn about scientists’ contributions to the fields of entomology, astronomy, ecology and more. Follow in their footsteps with related hands-on activities to continue learning about these topics. Learn more about the contributors themselves on our Black History web page. Tag us @PacSci on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram to share the names of additional Black scientists, innovators, and inventors you think should be recognized!

Read and share stories

Dive into Black History Month with some recommended reads for children and adults from King County Library System.

Dr. Pellum’s 2019 book Black Women in Science introduces readers to Black trailblazers in mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and more in a beautifully written chapter book recommended for kids age 9-12.
For younger readers, we recommend Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison in this illustrated storybook full of inspiring role models for curious minds.

What are your favorite books about Black leaders in STEM and how are you sharing those stories with your community?

Attend a virtual panel on Black Excellence in Tech

Meet some of the Black professionals working in the tech industry as they share their journey into tech and answer student questions with Moderator Karl Jackson, Technical Program Manager, LEO Tech at Amazon. Panelists include individuals working in user experience, software design and systems engineering, each with a unique pathway into their STEM career. This live, interactive event is hosted by Amazon Future Engineers as part of the Class Chats program. Bring your questions to the event on February 16, at 10 a.m.!

Explore Hidden Figures in a modern light

You might be familiar with the book and film Hidden Figures, which tells the story of three Black mathematicians who made it possible to send astronaut John Glenn into outer space in 1962. You can not only find the biographies of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson on NASA’s Hidden to Modern Figures resource page, but also explore their lasting legacy and download lesson plans and activities to bring these stories to life for K-12th grade students.

Visit Black-owned businesses 

Being a business owner takes STEM skills, such as perseverance, problem solving, math, and communication. Local businesses are at the heart of our communities and connect us both economically and socially. Plug in your area code on Intentionalist’s easy-to-filter directory to seek out Black-owned business near you. Explore business-owner profiles to get to know the people behind these special places.

Support Black Girls Code 

Did you know Seattle has their own chapter of Black Girls Code, a program to inspire and teach Black girls about computer programming? From artificial intelligence to mobile and app design, girls age 7-17 are learning skills to launch careers in tech and connecting with local role models. Get involved by making a donation or volunteering as a guest speaker. 

Spread the word on iUrban Teen 

Our friends at iUrban Teen are on a mission to bring together underrepresented teens and young adults for career exploration and mentoring. This month, iUrban is featuring iMap: Sickle Cell Disease, an all-girls program teaching skills in data analysis and exploring careers in biology and healthcare.

Give your feedback on how STEM can be more inclusive  

At PacSci, we believe curiosity and critical thinking can be used to advance justice for all. What are some ways you think STEM can be more inclusive? How can institutions, such as Pacific Science Center, help uproot institutional racism and make STEM a more diverse and equitable field? Please share your thoughts and suggestions with us as we continue this journey. Send your ideas to PacSci.