Lesson plan

Researching Black Inventors

Inventors and their novel inventions are always a thrilling topic! In the lesson Researching Black Inventors, first graders and second graders are encouraged to research the rich history of African American inventors. This engaging lesson plan provides students with an opportunity to learn all about inventors they find interesting and the impact those inventors have on the world. Perfect for Black History Month, this learning activity highlights informational writing skills and helps build students' vocabulary.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to conduct research.
  • Students will be able to write an informative text.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather the students together in a group.
  • Explain to the students that today, they will be learning all about African American inventors.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner, explaining what it means to invent something. Provide students with sentence stems/frames such as:
    • "An inventor is someone who ____."
    • "An inventor ____ new things."
  • Allow students to briefly share their ideas with the rest of the class. Clarify that an inventor is someone who makes something that has never been made or has an idea that no one has had before! Record some other words that they may know that are similar to inventor such as: builder, creator, maker, innovator, experimenter.
  • Play the "The ABCs of Black Inventors" video.
  • Ask students to share out one thing or person they learned about from the video.
(15 minutes)
  • Bring out the book Cece Loves Science (alternatively, bring up the read-aloud version on your computer).
  • Explain to the students that before they learn about African American inventors, they are going to learn about a girl named Cece who loves science!
  • Elaborate that science has to do with asking questions. Inventors ask a lot of questions before they come up with new ideas, machines, and products. That's why science is so much fun!
  • Read the book aloud and ask students prompting questions throughout to check for understanding, such as:
    • What is science? Why does Cece love science?
    • What do Cece and Issac want to know? What is their question?
    • Why does Cece get frustrated and feel like she's not a scientst? Think of a time when you've felt frustrated when something doesn't work out the way you'd like it to.
    • How does Cece think outside the box?
  • After reading the story, allow students time to share their favorite part of the story in small groups or partnerships.
(20 minutes)
  • Tape the anchor chart up on a wall or whiteboard so students can see it well.
  • Explain to the students that today, they will research an inventor they are interested in learning more about.
  • Elaborate that when we research something, we learn more about it.
  • Read through the anchor chart, explaining that some of the people listed are young African American inventors, and others are older African American inventors.
  • Explain to the students that today they will have a chance to research one of the inventors listed on the anchor chart (or another that they are super interested in and already know the name of).
  • Display the Learning Through Research worksheet on the document camera.
  • Read aloud the student directions.
  • Tell the students now you will model how to conduct research on a computer. Explain to the students that they will also have access to a variety of books and articles.
  • Explain to the students that you are really interested in learning more about a kid inventor named Bishop Curry who created a special device that would prevent babies from overheating in cars. Access the article about Bishop Curry (see link in materials section above).
  • Read through the article and watch part of the TED talk (if time allows). Use the information you gathered to fill out Part 1 of the Learning Through Researching worksheet.
  • Display Part 2 and model writing a short informative text with an introduction, three facts, and a concluding sentence. Model using the information in Part 1 to guide you. Model your thought process about how to write the paper by thinking aloud.
(20 minutes)
  • Hand out the Learning Through Research worksheet to each student.
  • Allow students to work in partnerships or on their own to research an inventor.
  • Provide access to computers, tablets, and a class or school library if possible to encourage students to learn more about their chosen inventor and record their information.
  • Rotate around the room to assist students as neccessary, guiding them if they struggle to find information about a particular person.


  • Allow students to work in a small, teacher-led group.
  • Allow students to record their answers to the worksheet using assistive technology.
  • Dictate the informative text for students.


  • Challenge students to use the Revise Your Informational Writing and Edit Your Informational Writing worksheets to make their writing better.
  • Encourage students to research two inventors and compare/contrast their findings.
  • Allow students to make their own inventions. What would they make? How would they make it happen? What would they need?
  • Provide students with devices to conduct research.
  • Allow students to type their informative texts on a computer.
  • Collect students' worksheets to check for understanding.
  • Use their work to gauge their understanding of the lesson's objectives.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather students back together and choose student volunteers to read their informative texts aloud.
  • Compare and contrast interesting qualities about each inventor.
  • Ask students to think about one thing they are still wondering and have them share their ideas with the rest of the class. Record their ideas on a piece of paper. Use their ideas to inform future lessons on African American inventors.

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