February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate and honor the contributions and achievements of Black Americans throughout history. One way to do this is by incorporating STEAM activities and lessons into your curriculum. By engaging students in hands-on, interactive projects that integrate these subjects, educators can help to spark curiosity, creativity, and an appreciation for the role of Black Americans in shaping our world.
In this blog post, we will explore various STEAM activities that can be used to celebrate Black History Month in the classroom, from creating art to coding robots and more.
Watch and discuss Hidden Figures
This powerful film tells the true stories of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, trailblazing women at NASA who took America to the moon. After watching the film, try this free lesson about Dorothy Vaughan and Fortran in Ozobot Classroom.
Host a historic science fair
For Science teachers, one fun idea to engage students this month is to hold your own science fair featuring famous Black inventors. Students can present an idea as the inventor and explain its use and effect on society. Additionally, advanced students might improve upon these inventions or try to come up with alternative inventions if the original ones had never existed.
Invite Black STEAM professionals to your classroom
One of the best ways to motivate students to pursue STEAM careers is by highlighting role models in their community. Educators of all grade levels can invite Black STEAM professionals to discuss their jobs, how they reached that point in their careers, and the steps students can take to succeed.
For example, the I Have a Dream Foundation (IHADLA) in Los Angeles has had Judith Onyepunuka, a track star who studied science, attend a class as a Dream Speaker. Connecting real people to students’ goals can help them see how their dreams can become a reality.
Discuss perceptions and current events through self-portraits
Black History Month is a perfect time to discuss race issues and encourage your students to be curious, engaged citizens. Even if you do not teach history or art, one way to engage students is to create self-portraits. Ask students to create self-portraits and write words or phrases on them related to their community and world issues that concern them. The current events students read about today will be taught in history classes tomorrow, which is why it’s so important to discuss them as they happen.
Learn about notable changemakers with an Ozobot STEAM lesson
Kickstart classroom conversations by learning about a few notable changemakers who helped shape history. In Black History: Influential People, students will read clues to identify five different influential Black leaders and draw a picture to show a major event. Students will create an interactive timeline using Color Codes to program their bot to move through history.
Send students on a Black History scavenger hunt
One way to teach students about historical figures who might not be covered in their textbooks is to make a fun and engaging online scavenger hunt. Education World is an excellent resource for online scavenger hunts for 4th-9th grade classrooms that take students on a journey through Black History. They’ll learn about historical figures including Jesse Owens, Sojourner Truth, Mary Terrell, and more, as they sharpen their online researching skills.
Reflect on the Civil Rights Movement through programming
Ozobots for Black History Month is a great STEAM activity for students to learn about one of the most monumental movements in American history. In this lesson, students will create timelines of an eminent figure in the civil rights movement. Then, they will answer questions based on prior knowledge of the civil rights movement to propel their Evo forward down the correct path.
Explore key Black aviators in history
Lessons on aviation tend to focus on white inventors and pilots, but there were many Black Americans who contributed to modern-day flight. The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum has a Black Wings guide with lessons related to Bessie Coleman, the Tuskegee Airmen, and modern astronauts.
STEAM teachers can easily tie this into lesson plans and activities around flight. Students can build aircraft and compete to fly successfully or learn about the physics of flight and air travel.
Discover prominent Black engineers and scientists with Ozobot
Extraordinary Black innovators have made countless contributions to the fields of engineering and science throughout history. In this STEAM lesson, students will choose an influential Black scientist or engineer, research their lives, and create a biographical timeline for their bot to follow.
Recognize Garret Morgan with a traffic light activity
In this STEAM activity, students will learn about Garret Morgan and his invention — traffic lights! Ideal for younger students, this interactive arts and crafts activity is both fun and educational.