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Famous African American Inventors: A Black History in America Activity

Discover famous African Americans whose inventions have changed the worlds of medicine, technology, and transportation.


3–5, 6–8

Activity Type

  • Interactive Whiteboard Activities

In this part of Scholastic's Culture and Change: Black History in America online activity, students get to know Famous African American Inventors by reading our slideshow, which includes the following inventors:

  • Alexander Miles, who improved the safety of elevators
  • Elijah McCoy, the "real McCoy," whose invention allowed trains to run more efficiently
  • Lewis Latimer, whose bright invention made the lightbulb more practical
  • Jan Ernst Matzeliger, the creator of a shoemaking machine the revolutionized the industry
  • Granville T. Woods, the inventor of a train-to-train communication system
  • George Washington Carver, an agricultural expert who advised President Theodore Roosevelt
  • Madam C. J. Walker, a businesswoman who became one of America's first self-made female millionaires
  • Garrett Morgan, the creator of the gas mask and the first traffic signal with three commands
  • Dr. Charles Richard Drew, who saved thousands of lives with his invention for improving blood banks
  • Otis Boykin, whose work in electronics resulted in a resistor that made electronic devices cheaper and more reliable
  • James E. West, who invented microphone technology
  • Dr. Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist whose surgical tool revolutionized eye surgery
  • Lonnie G. Johnson, a NASA engineer and the inventor of the world-famous Super Soaker!
  • Mark Dean, who co-invented the personal computer

Each inventor's page includes background information, a description of the invention, and a "Did You Know?" fact.

Susan Cheyney

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