STEM Activity: Celebrate Black History Month

Back to Blog
STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Celebrate Black History Month

Take on an activity inspired by National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee Emmett Chappelle, the inventor of bioluminescent techniques!


Materials Needed 

  • Drawing materials (crayons, markers, pencils)
  • Paper
  • Recyclables (cardboard boxes, empty water bottles, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Stickers or other art supplies
  • Tape


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Research animals that use bioluminescence, producing and emitting their own natural light. Need a start? Check out fireflies, sea jellies and angler fish!
  2. Brainstorm different designs for glowing lights or objects that might make life easier at home, on the playground, or even in outer space (e.g., glowing clouds for streetlights, glowing leaves throughout a tree, a glowing night light, etc.).
  3. Sketch your nature-inspired, glowing designs.
  4. Create a prototype (model) of your favorite design using recyclables and craft items from around your home.
  5. Looking for more fun? Download this Emmett Chappelle Activity Sheet!


What Are We Discovering? 

NIHF Inductee Emmett Chappelle discovered that a specific combination of chemicals caused a living organism to produce and emit light. While working for NASA, Chappelle began exploring the qualities of light given off by different life forms. In charge of developing instruments used to scrape soil from Mars on NASA’s Viking probe, Chappelle realized how chemicals gave off a measurable light when mixed with materials containing living cells. Chappelle’s innovations in harvesting the power of bioluminescence facilitated important findings in the fields of biology and chemistry. Today, scientists are taking DNA sequences from glowing marine bacteria and inserting them into plants to enable them to synthesize and emit their own light!

In celebration of Black History Month, we invite you to learn about more great inventors by visiting our online exhibit, Celebrating African American History.


Looking for an exciting new way to explore STEM?

Thousands of children across the country have engaged in easy, at-home fun with our Innovation Exploration Kits™. Each kit offers tons of materials for endless exploration and creativity, delivered right to your door. To learn more, we invite you to visit our website!

Related Articles