South Orangetown Central School District

Grade 6 Technology lesson

South Orangetown Technology teacher Kerry Beckmann and Challenge Lab teacher Edith Nowak worked together to create a multi-disciplinary lesson for sixth graders that focused on famous Black STEM innovators in recognition of Black History Month.

“By combining our classes, students engaged in a hands-on project that not only celebrated the achievements of Black STEM heroes, but also reinforced their understanding of geometric shapes, research methods and teamwork. Through this activity, students learned about notable figures in STEM fields and embraced the 4C’s of SOMS (critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration) while solving clues to complete a scavenger hunt,” explained Nowak. “Ultimately, the takeaway for students is a deeper appreciation for diversity in STEM, a strengthened grasp of interdisciplinary connections and the empowerment to pursue their own interests in STEM fields.”

Students were given 19 fill-in-the-blank questions and to find the answers, they had to search for the clues scattered across Beckmann’s classroom. During the scavenger hunt, sixth graders learned about various STEM heroes throughout history including Marie Van Brittan Brown, the inventor of the first home security system; Daniel Hale Williams, one of the first physicians to perform open-heart surgery; Marie Maynard Daly, the first African American women to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States; J. Ernest Wilkins, a nuclear scientist and mathematician; and Mae Jemison, an engineer and NASA astronaut who became the first women of color to in the world to go into space in 1992.

After solving the clues, students worked with their partner to build a dodecahedron. Each face on their dodecahedron had a question they had to answer based on what they learned during the scavenger hunt.