The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History has unveiled its newest permanent exhibit, Inspiring Minds: African Americans in Science and Technology. Highlighting trailblazers, contemporaries, and careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, it is the Museum’s largest long-term installation since the opening of its core exhibit, And Still We Rise, in 2005.
African Americans have contributed to the scientific output of the United States since the 17th century, and this history is brought to life through interactive computer kiosks, a touch screen video wall, and hands-on activities and play areas. Four disciplines of scientific advancement are explored: Physical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, and Technology & Engineering. Within these, Inspiring Minds introduces individuals from across the spectrum of fields, levels of renown, and from times past and present, with particular focuses on African American women in science, black aviators, black inventors, medical ethics, and key historical figures such as George Washington Carver.
“Inspiring Minds fulfills the wishes of the Museum’s founder, Dr. Charles H. Wright, himself a man of science,” says Robert L. Smith, the Museum’s vice president of Education and Exhibitions. “Dr. Wright wanted children to know the contributions of African American scientists and inventors. He believed this knowledge would inspire them to see greater possibilities for themselves. Inspiring Minds promises to have a direct and meaningful impact on children who visit, increasing their appreciation and learning of the STEM fields and the individuals of color behind great inventions and discoveries.”
The mission of this multi-year project is to inspire young people to pursue careers in the STEM fields using the personal stories of historical and contemporary scientists and inventors who have made important contributions to the world. Designed for K – 8th grade students as well as the general public, Inspiring Minds details the achievements of over 500 African American scientists and technologists. The exhibit teaches general scientific concepts based on the Michigan Education Standards, and will feature educational programs including daily tours, workshops with contemporary scientists, and a national robotics competition.
The Wright Museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Midtown Detroit’s Cultural Center, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm, and on Sundays from 1 until 5 pm. Inspiring Minds is free with museum admission, which is $8 for adults (ages 13-61), and $5 for seniors (62+) and youth (3-12). Admission is free for Museum members and children under 3. Significant funding for Inspiring Minds: African Americans in Science and Technology was provided by The Renaissance (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.