Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Tribute to Black History: Garrett Morgan

February is Black History Month, but the impact African Americans have had on the development of our beautiful country and the contributions that have been made to the entire world are recognized and appreciated every day

How did this month long celebration get started?

Dr. Carter G. Woodson founded The Journal of Negro History in 1916 and began Negro History Week in 1926. A week in February was designated because that month held birthdays for Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. This week went on to become Black History Month in 1976, designated by presidential proclamation.

Today's post celebrates Garrett Morgan. 

Born in 1877 to former slaves, Garret spent his childhood working on a farm with his siblings. Unfortunately, his formal schooling ended in his elementary years, but this didn't stop him from continuing his education. In search of opportunity, Morgan hired a tutor as a young adult. He soon began his career repairing sewing machines and later branched out as an entrepreneur, opening his own sewing equipment and repair shop. This was the first of many businesses he would find success with. He soon became well-known as a business man and later went on to invent the gas mask and at the height of his career, the traffic signal.  Garrett Morgan died August 27, 1963, at the age of 86. After living a very full and successful life, Morgan has become known as one of the many influential inventors in American history.

Here is a free printable worksheet that you can use to teach your students about Garret Morgan. 

Here is an extension activity that can go with the printable:
  • Have your students read about additional African American inventors. Discuss the inventions that are most relevant to their everyday lives.
  • Have your students think about ways they could improve these inventions, or, brainstorm things they can invent to make their day to day lives easier (i.e. a binder that comes with an electric hole puncher attached so that when you go to add paper, it automatically punches the necessary holes for you). Discuss ideas that range from simple to more complex. 
  • Once they make a final decision on what their invention can be, have the students illustrate, write about, and/or create a prototype of their invention. You can display their ideas on a class bulletin board, on a display table, or take pics and post them in a "New Inventions" magazine. They can also write a newspaper article introducing their invention, or create an advertisement to promote it. Students can also vote on the invention they would most likely use. 

Visit The Black Inventor Museum for additional African American inventors:

Please feel free to post a link to any Black History Month activities you are posting on your blog, Facebook, or website! 
Enjoy : ) 

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