Black Innovators in STEM Who Changed the World

You’ve probably heard of Einstein- now meet some of the lesser-known Black innovators in STEM fields. 

The history of STEM fields is full of amazing accomplishments. Names like Newton, Darwin, Hawking, Curie, and Goodall bring to mind incredible discoveries and inventions. But there are many Black innovators in STEM who's names we don’t mention as often and are usually ignored, even though they are associated with accomplishments that are no less impressive and important. The work of Black scientists, engineers, and mathematicians has led to game-changing discoveries and inventions. 
 
From inspirational “firsts” that changed the STEM field forever to those making their mark on the world today, here are 11 Black scientists, engineers, and mathematicians that you should know about. This list is in alphabetical order by last name and is by no means exhaustive. There are far too many important people to list in one post, and Black innovators in STEM who continue to undertake significant scientific research every day.

Dr. Stephon Alexander is a theoretical physicist and professor at Brown University who specializes in string theory and particle physics.

He co-invented a model that helps to explain the early expansion of the universe, served as the scientific advisor on Ava DeVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, and currently serves as the President of the National Society of Black Physicists.

As an accomplished saxophone player, Alexander also explores interconnections between music, physics, mathematics, and technology, topics he explores in his best-selling book, The Jazz of Physics.

Black innovators in STEM- Dr. Stephon Alexander

George Washington Carver, arguably the most famous Black scientist and inventor, was born into slavery.

He was accepted into Highland College in Kansas, but ultimately denied admission due to his race. He went on to be the first Black student at Iowa State Agricultural College, where he became known as a brilliant botanist (a scientist who studies plants). He is best known for coming up with over 100 uses for the peanut.

In addition, as the head of the Tuskegee Institute’s agricultural department, he also helped develop crops and agricultural methods that stabilized the livelihoods of many former slaves. He also contributed greatly to the education of Black Americans in universities and through mobile classrooms that brought lessons to farmers.

Black innovators in STEM- George Washington Carver

Dr. Marie M. Daly was a biochemist and the first Black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States.

She made several critical contributions to medicine, including the discovery of the relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease and conducting pioneering research into the effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs. Her work created a new understanding of how food, diet, and lifestyle can affect heart health.

In addition to her research, Daly taught biochemistry courses, advocated for getting Black students enrolled in medical schools and graduate science programs, and started a scholarship for minority students to study science at Queens College in New York.

Black innovators in STEM- M. Daly

Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr is a theoretical physicist known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory.

In 1984, he co-authored Superspace, the first comprehensive book on the topic of supersymmetry. Born the oldest of four children in Tampa, FL, Gates spent his teen years in Orlando, attending Jones High School—his first experience in a segregated African-American school. Comparing his own school's quality to neighboring white schools, "I understood pretty quickly that the cards were really stacked against us." Nevertheless, a course in physics established Gates' career interest in that field, especially its mathematical side. At his father's urging, he applied for admission to MIT and was accepted.

His doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on supersymmetry. Gates served on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and is a past president of the National Society of Black Physicists. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African-American theoretical physicist so recognized in its 150-year history. President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists in the U.S., in 2013. He is an honorary member of Orlando Science Center’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr

Dr. Aprielle Ericcson-Jackson is an award-winning aerospace engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and one of the most famous women working at NASA today.

Throughout her career at NASA Goddard, she has made many notable contributions, including as the projector manager for the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that has been orbiting the Moon since 2009.

She has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Minority Women in Science and Engineering by the National Technical Association and has received the NASA Goddard Honor Award for Excellence in Outreach, the Washington Award for engineering achievements that advance the welfare of mankind, and a Science Trailblazers award from the Black Engineers of the Year Award Conference.

Dr. Aprielle Ericcson-Jackson

Zora Neale Hurston – who grew up in Eatonville, Florida – was a renowned author and anthropologist.

She became a member of the Harlem Renaissance in New York. At Columbia University, she worked with Franz Boas, the Father of American Anthropology. As an anthropologist, she embedded herself in the communities she studied, focusing on and writing about the religious traditions, songs, and folklore of Black communities in Florida, Louisiana, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Her anthropological work influenced her fiction, most notably the classic and influential novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her anthropological work was published in academic journals and books.

Zora Neale Hurston

Katherine Johnson was one of the famous Hidden Figures who worked at NASA and made the 1969 moon landing possible.

After working as a teacher in public schools, she joined NASA (then NACA) as a research mathematician in the Langley laboratory’s all-Black West Area Computing section. There, she analyzed data from flight tests and went onto do trajectory analysis for the first human spaceflight. In 1962, she used geometry for space travel and figured out the paths for spacecraft to orbit around Earth and land on the Moon. This led to an astronaut successfully orbiting around the Earth for the first time.

She continued to work for NASA, with her calculations helping to send astronauts to the Moon and back. When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, she chose her calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Module with the lunar-orbiting Command and Service Module.

Katherine Johnson
Dr. Percy Julian was a pioneering chemist who made several game-changing discoveries.
 
He completed the first total synthesis of a chemical called physostigmine, which was used to treat glaucoma. He also discovered how to extract steroids from soybean oil and synthesize the hormones progesterone and testosterone from them, and then synthesized cortisone, which became used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, he invented Aero-Foam, which was widely used during World War II to put out oil and gas fires.
 
In 1973, he became the first Black chemist elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Chemical Society recognizes his synthesis of physostigmine as “one of the top 25 greatest achievements in the history of American chemistry.”
Dr. Percy Julian

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele is a neurologist and professor at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.

His focus is on reducing the burden of stroke in the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is particularly focused on improving outcomes for vulnerable populations – including ethnic minorities and military veterans – at risk for stroke, and oversees several National Institutes of Health-funded research programs to this effect. This includes the largest study of stroke in Sub-Saharan African to date.

As a professor, he has worked to train, mentor, and inspire people from groups who are under-represented in medicine. He has been appointed the Associate Dean of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and acts as their Chief of Staff.

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is a celebrated clinical psychologist, notable educator, and a nationally recognized authority on racial issues in America.

As a clinical psychologist, she devoted her career to studying how race impacts self-understanding, particularly in relation to education. She has also been a prominent voice in research showing that young children notice race and has argued that it is something that should be openly and honestly discussed with them instead of ignored. As part of this work, she has called for discussions of race in the classroom, has published the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and has given lectures across the country.

In 2014, she received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology.

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Dr. Warren Washington is a distinguished climate scientist and former chair of the National Science Board.

After completing his Ph.D. in meteorology, he became a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). While there, he developed one of the first atmospheric computer models of Earth’s climate. He went on to become the head of NCAR’s Climate Change Research Section.

Washington has been recognized as an expert in atmospheric science, climate research, and the computer modeling of these, receiving multiple presidential appointments to serve on committees, being elected chair of the National Science Board in 2002 and 2004, and receiving numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science in 2009.

Dr. Warren Washington

Learn more! 

There are countless more Black innovators in STEM fields to meet: 

Dr. Phillips Charities Presents 2020 Leadership Award to OSC

The Board of Directors of Dr. Phillips Charities has awarded the 2020 Dr. Phillips Leadership Award to Orlando Science Center.

In the innovative and philanthropic tradition of their founders, Dr. P. Phillips, his wife Della and their son Howard, the Dr. Phillips Leadership Award, which includes a donation of $250,000, honors nonprofit organizations that demonstrate community leadership, financial stewardship, and sustainable and impactful programs that change lives.

“We are proud to bestow the 2020 Dr. Phillips Leadership Award on JoAnn Newman and the Board of Directors of the Orlando Science Center,” said Kenneth Robinson, President of Dr. Phillips Charities. “They and their team have developed engaging, sustainable science programs and opportunities that help build essential skills and inspire current and future generations to pursue important STEM careers.”

The Dr. Phillips name has been a major economic and philanthropic presence in the Central Florida community since the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Phillips Charities honors the legacy of the Phillips family and its support of organizations that live up to their motto “to help others help themselves” by donating millions of dollars to more than 100 local charities.

Beyond its community impact, the award acknowledges Orlando Science Center and its leadership for their dedication to quality educational experiences by consistently premiering new exhibit areas, expanding resources and STEM learning opportunities, and fostering an environment that simulates creativity and innovation. Recipients receive the award and a $250,000 donation to their organization.

“From our first gift in 1958 to the Dr. Phillips CineDome and our recent support of the Orange Grove in KidsTown, Dr. Phillips Charities has been a longtime partner with Orlando Science Center,” said James Ferber, Chair of the Board for Dr. Phillips Charities. “Having given more than $4 Million in support of their mission and programs, we have seen their commitment to igniting innovation, and to enhancing lives in our community.”

Since 1955, Orlando Science Center has brought together diverse audiences of all ages to discover and explore science learning through immersive experiences. We are dedicated to sharing opportunities that show the relevance of science to people’s lives and create a better understanding of the world around them.

“For 65 years, Orlando Science Center has helped build important skills for the leaders and problem solvers of tomorrow. Science is the key to addressing some of our country’s greatest challenges, whether it’s returning Americans to space or combatting a global pandemic,” Newman said. “Partners like Dr. Phillips Charities are essential to help us as we advance our mission and inspire future generations. Together, we can change the world."

6 Important LGBTQ Scientists Who Left a Mark on STEM Fields

These important LGBTQ scientists changed the world through science! 

June is Pride Month in the United States, commemorating the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 which are largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBTQ+ movement for civil rights. The riots inspired LGBTQ+ people and allies throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights. Pride Month is a time to recognize past and present struggles and successes in the ongoing fight for civil rights, as well as to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals.

In honor of Pride Month, we’ve rounded up a list of incredible scientists who self-identified as members of LGBTQ+ community and have left a lasting mark on the STEM fields with both their activism and scientific research. Learn more about these important LGBTQ+ scientists and their impact.   

 

Sara Josephine Baker, known for tracking down Typhoid Mary, was openly gay. She contributed greatly to public health in New York City and took particular interest in helping communities of immigrants. She fought to provide access to medical care for all areas of the city and helped train new healthcare professionals. 

 

important LBGTQ scientists included Sarah Josephine Baker

 

Ben Barres was a pioneering neurobiologist at Stanford University. His work on a type of brain cells called glia revolutionized our understanding of the brain. In 2013, Barres became the first openly transgender member elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, an organization that includes many of the United States’ leading scientists.

important LBGTQ scientists include Ben Barres

 

Colin Turnbull was one of the first anthropologists to study ethnomusicology (the study of the music of different cultures). He was an activist in many causes, including prison reform and the celebration of immigrant cultures. He and his partner, Joseph Towles, both died of AIDS. 

important LBGTQ scientists include Colin Turnbull

 

Lauren Esposito is an arachnologist (a scientist who studies spiders and related animals such as scorpions) and the only woman expert on scorpions in the world. She is the co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists, a visibility movement and professional network that boosts the recognition and awareness of LGBTQ+ people working in STEM fields.

important LBGTQ scientists include Lauren Esposito

 

Ruth Gates was a leading marine biologist and conservationist who studied coral reefs. Her work on creating “super corals” that are more resistant to climate change can be seen in the documentary Chasing Coral. She was an inspiration to LGBTQ+ scientists as an out lesbian at the top of her field. 

 

important LBGTQ scientists include Ruth Gates

 

Richard Summerbell is a prominent mycologist (a scientist who studies fungi) and a leading expert on how fungi affect the health of humans and the environment. He has been an LGBTQ+ activity and commentator on HIV/AIDS since the 1970s during the gay liberation movement.

important LBGTQ scientists include Richard Summerbell

Learn more about the LQBTQ+ science community!

Remembering our nation's history is important, and it is equally important to continue working toward our bright future.

The 500 Queer Scientists website is a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people and their allies working in STEM and STEM-supporting jobs — a group that collectively represents a powerful force of scientific progress and discovery. You can learn more about this project via their website at www.500queerscientists.com

How are you celebrating Pride at home? Share your decorations, experiments, or lessons with us using #OSCatHome!

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In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Bee Identification Game: To Bee or Not to Bee

Put your bee identification skills to the test!

Bee identification can BEE tricky when many bees, hornets, wasps, and other insects can have similar yellow patterns (or jackets).

 

Let’s find out as we play a bee identification game – a bee or not a bee! Test your knowledge of our pollinating pals, and find out what makes a bee a bee? 

 

Guess whether the picture is a bee or not a bee, then reveal the answer and some fun facts about our buzzing buddies! 

American Bumble Bee

Bumble bees live in underground colonies with a queen and many workers. They are the only bees that can perform buzz pollination - certain plants like tomatoes require specific vibration to release pollen. Bumble bees are the fuzziest bees. Because bumble bees are bigger and warmer, they can be out earlier and later in the day, at colder temperatures, and higher altitudes than other bees.

Hover Fly

These flies may hover around flowers like bees, but you can tell them apart if you look closely! Bees have four wings while flies only have two. Also, check out the antennae – fly antennae are usually small and hard to see, but bee antennae have a bend in them that’s pretty visible.

Blue Orchard Mason Bee

Mason bees are solitary; they use individual nesting holes but live near each other. These are the bees that you may have made bee houses for in the Hive! These bees use mud, like masons, to build walls in their nest tunnels. They can pollinate many plants including apple, peach, pear, and plum trees. Because of their efficient pollination, many farmers like to have them around.

Yellow Jacket

Wasps and bees have similar coloration, wings, and both have stingers so they are often confused. While most bees are gentle and solitary, wasps can be more aggressive and territorial. How do you tell them apart? Wasps often have brighter colors and a smooth texture. Wasps are not as hairy looking as bees are.

European Honey Bee

Of about 20,000 bee species, only seven produce honey! Honey bees are not native to the United States. Although they can pollinate plants, they are not nearly as efficient as native bee species. These bees are social and live in hives with up to several hundred bees.

 

Every bee performs specific tasks to accomplish goals for the hive. Because honey bees live in a community and have a home to defend, they will be upset and may sting if you disturb a hive. It’s important to respect animals and leave them alone to do their important job in our ecosystems.

Hornet

Hornets are the largest group of wasps. Remember how to tell bees and wasps apart? Wasps usually have brighter colors and are less hairy looking than bees!

Mud Dauber Wasp

Mud dauber wasps build their nests by molding mud with their mouths. You probably have seen mud dauber nests before – we have a lot of them in Florida! These wasps are carnivorous – they eat other creatures, such as spiders.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Moths and bees both have fuzzy bodies and both have two sets of wing per side. Most moths are nocturnal, but some are out during the day and are easily confused with bees. How do you tell them apart? Moths have slender legs, with no fluff or obvious pollen basket like a bee. Moths have a unique mouthpart, the long proboscis they use to feed.

Drone Fly

Drone flies look and sound like bees, but you can tell them apart by their antennae and wings. Flies have short antennae and two wings, not four like a bee.

Sweat Bee

Most types of sweat bees nest in the ground, but a few nest in rotten wood. Like most bees, they eat nectar and pollen. Sweat bees often hover around or land on sweaty humans because they want the salt in their sweat, not because they think humans are flowers.

Expand on the activity:

What was your score? Are you a bee expert?

  • Learn how you can help our pollinating pals at www.thehoneybeeconservancy.org/

  • You may have heard about the Asian giant hornet, an invasive species to the United States, starting to make its way here and harming the local bees. 

    We're not likely to see any of these hornets in Florida as sightings so far have been limited to the West Coast. Here are some tips to help you differentiate helpful bees from these and other hornet species: www.agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/hornets

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Get a round up of our latest activities and ideas delivered straight to your inbox so you don't miss a thing!

Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

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How to Talk to Kids About COVID-19: An Interview with Family Therapist Tonya Ramsburg

Family Therapist, Tonya Ramsburg shares tips on how to talk to kids about COVID-19

We spoke with licensed Family Therapist, Tonya Ramsburg, MA, LMFT, in a virtual conversation about the concerns of families during this time. Tonya Ramsburg has 15 years of experience providing therapy to children and families all over the world, and is a mother to a five-year-old and a two-year-old.

 

In our conversation, we explore how to talk to kids about COVID-19 and balance the needs of everyone in your family and how to address some of the challenging situations that come from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have more questions?

We’re dedicated to providing our community with expert-approved answers. If you have questions that were not covered in our conversation, please email sciencelive@osc.org

Looking for more?

The resources listed below provide valuable information, tips, and materials to help your family navigate our ever-changing world during this pandemic.

Everyday Help and Information for Caregivers During COVID-19 and Beyond:

  • Vroom

    “This period of change with COVID-19 may bring new challenges, but you already have what it takes! We’ve collected some simple and fun ways to boost brain building at home together with your child. Even a few minutes count.”

    Vroom provides convenient tips for caregivers to bring learning into your everyday routines. These tips are science and research-based and center around a child’s developing brain, with easy-to-understand explanations included for adults.

  • Zero to Three

    “The following resources offer tips for families including age-appropriate responses to common questions, a guide to self-care, and activities for young children experiencing social distancing.”

    Zero to Three provides research-based information for our youngest children. They have created and compiled many informative, empathetic resources for parenting babies and toddlers

  • Conscious Discipline

    “For 20+ years, “We’re all in this together,” has been a core tenet of Conscious Discipline. It seems ironic that a virus that requires social distancing to slow its spread has drawn our attention to how intimately connected we truly are as friends, neighbors, communities and nations. Safety, connection and problem-solving are the most valuable contribution we can offer to those around us as we navigate these unprecedented times (and beyond). Breathe with me. We can handle this … together.”

    Conscious Discipline focuses on evidence-based social emotional learning and is often used in schools to help children feel safe, welcome, and ready to learn. They have put together many great resources for appropriate and wise guidance for your family during the pandemic. Be sure to scroll through the whole page for webinars, printables, and podcasts.

  • Child Mind Institute

    “We know parents are struggling to balance work, child care and self-care while keeping worries — both your children’s and your own — under control. You don’t have to do it alone.”

    Child Mind Institute is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping children who have mental and learning differences. Their COVID-19 resource page includes helpful information for families with children who have specific needs such as autism, anxiety, and PTSD. They provide parental guidance on a wide range of subjects and for a wide range of ages. 

  • National Geographic: Talking to Kids About Xenophobia

    “In time, coronavirus infections will likely start to slow—and perhaps the related hate incidents against people of Asian descent will slow with it. But xenophobia is something that’s always with us, which is why it’s important for parents to teach their kids to fight it.”

    This article from National Geographic talks about ways to recognize, understand, prevent, and address xenophobia with our children. (Please be aware that National Geographic only allows access to a limited number of digital articles each month. If you have already hit your limit of free articles, you will need to purchase a subscription to read this article right away or wait until the next month.)

  • Unicef: 5 Ways to Fight Racism and Xenophobia

    “Celebrating other cultures emphasizes the fact that we are all people and sends the message that racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated in a civil society. It is our job, as people, as parents, as citizens of the world, to combat racism and xenophobia wherever we can.”

    This article provides guidance for individuals and parents in responding to racism as a result of COVID-19. 

  • Teaching Tolerance: Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus

    “Even if your students do not represent the identities likely to be harmed by racist comments around the coronavirus, or you believe they’re not spreading misinformation and repeating racist tropes, exploring anti-AAPI rhetoric around the virus is still worthy of critical conversations in the classroom.”

    While this article is geared towards educators, it also includes helpful context and information for parents around bias and rhetoric our children are exposed to beyond what we may be aware of.

  • Coronavirus Books for Children

    “Several medical organizations and countless child educators and health teachers have been involved in the creation of storybooks for children. While many coronavirus books for children are likely to be soon published, here’s a closer look at a few outstanding and widely different examples…”

     

    This listing includes a variety of books and comics available for free and provided by experts from varying fields and backgrounds.

These stories provide you with a tool to talk to your children about COVID-19 and help answer some of their questions with age-appropriate language and images.

 

  • A Curious Guide for Courageous Kids

    “To prevent the virus from having too much fun jumping from one person to the next, day and night, scientists and doctors are studying how to defeat it. They say that we shouldn’t be too afraid, we should be cautious. But there is something you can do to keep it from spreading. It’s called prevention.

  • Tara Tuchel: Seeing Other People Wearing Masks

    “Some people wear glasses, some people wear hats, and some people wear masks. Seeing people wearing masks is different But, it’s okay!”

Tools to Help Children with Anxiety and Other Big Emotions

  • Save the Children: Relaxation Activities

    “School closings, sick friends and family members, isolation at home – these and other factors can cause anxiety and stress for children during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As the world’s leading expert on childhood, we’re sharing these drama-based relaxation exercises that are part of our global Healing and Education through the Arts (HEART) program for children living in stressful situations.”


    In this list, you will find specific breathing and relaxation techniques that use visualizations and dramatic play to help children de-stress.

 

  • PBS: How You and Your Kids Can De-Stress During Coronavirus

    “Research shows that just being in the presence of a compassionate, safe adult con help kids calm down. As families, we can be “that person” for each other.”


    PBS shares various techniques for relaxing and combating anxiety using familiar characters from their children’s shows.

  • Messenger Kids

     

    “Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app for smartphones and tablets*. Parents manage the contact list, and kids control the fun. Keep in touch with close friends and family with fun-filled features like filters and stickers.”

Kids News

These websites can help you share current world news with your children in simpler, more age-appropriate language. Please take some time to review these websites before sharing since all of the content may not be appropriate for your child. Check in with your children as you review the news and start conversations about how they are feeling and what concerns they might have about what you are learning together. 

 

  • News for Kids

    “We believe the name says it all. NewsForKids.net was created by a teacher to make the news accessible to kids. We carefully choose high interest stories appropriate to the audience, and present them in a way that is easy to understand. News is necessarily complicated and messy. There’s a lot to know. We strive to make each article as self-contained as possible, giving the necessary background and not assuming that the reader already has certain knowledge.”

  • DOGO 

    “DOGO Media is the leading online network empowering kids to engage with digital media in a fun, safe and social environment. Used by millions of students and teachers from around the world, our websites have quickly grown into a community of kids and educators engaging positively with current events, books, and movies. DOGO [doh-GOH] means young or small in Swahili. While our young fans may be small, they act BIG as they engage with our websites and express their opinions on the content that interests and inspires them.”

  • Time for Kids

    “Since 1995, TIME for Kids has published a weekly magazine for elementary school students. With exclusive access to TIME’s award-winning content, TIME for Kids is uniquely positioned to teach kids to recognize and value authentic and trustworthy journalism.”

  • Scholastic: Kids Press

    “Scholastic Kids Press is a group of talented Kid Reporters, ages 10–14, from across the country and around the world. Since 2000, our award-winning young journalists have reported "news for kids, by kids," covering politics, entertainment, the environment, sports, and more in their hometowns and on the national stage.”

Are Lionfish Safe to Eat? How You Can Help Advance Ocean Conservation

Are lionfish safe to eat? If they are, why should we have lionfish for lunch?

Deadly. Beautiful. Devastating. While lionfish may be stunning to look at, this invasive species has been wreaking havoc among marine ecosystems such as coral reefs along Florida coasts since the 1990s. In Florida waters, lionfish have no predators and have been eating many native species of fish, causing great ecological damage, with some areas showing an 85-90% decrease in their native fish.

 

The good news is you can help by having a snack! You probably won't see them on the menu at many seafood restaurants, so you may be wondering "Are lionfish safe to eat?" The answer is yes! 

Lionfish spines are venomous, not poisonous. Meaning, once the spines are removed, the rest of the fish is completely edible – and quite delicious. Not only does eating lionfish help remove these pesky fish from Florida’s waters, but it also offers a sustainable fishing alternative.

 

By including lionfish in your diet, you’re promoting sustainable fishing which is a great way to help advance ocean conservation. Growing demand for seafood has led to fishing practices that are depleting populations of fish and other aquatic creatures. Together, we can make a difference by purchasing seafood from responsible, sustainable fisheries and by creating demand for lionfish by purchasing it directly from reputable sources.

 

This information was sourced from National Geographic and NOAA Fisheries

How to be a Conservation Hero! 

Did you know oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth's water? Although many of us, especially in Florida, think of the oceans as a place to relax and soak up the sun – they are also vital to life on Earth and home to an estimated one million species. It is our duty to help conserve and protect our oceans, and the marine life that inhabit them.

 

There are many ways you can help protect the oceans and marine life. Check out these six ways you can practice ocean-friendly habits and help save our oceans. 

Florida Sea Grant is Making Waves with New Education Program

Florida Sea Grant Presents: Bite-Sized Science

Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program from the University of Florida with a mission to support integrated research, education, and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for the people of Florida. Florida Sea Grant taps into the research expertise of over 800 coastal and ocean scientists across Florida’s 16 major universities and research laboratories. Through their efforts, they support ocean education for students ranging from K-12 to graduate school. OSC's committed effort to improving students' and visitors' understanding of sustainability and conservation aligns with the Florida Sea Grant’s numerous activities that educate people on the importance of preservation and sustainability of Florida’s economically and environmentally vital coastal and marine resources.

 

Florida Sea Grant staff work closely with residents in a variety of educational and outreach programs across the state and in response to social distancing measures scientists and researchers are sharing their research and programming virtually with the public. We wanted to share resources and activities from our friends at Florida Sea Grant about environmental education! Visit their website to learn more!

 

What is Bite-Sized Science?

The Bite-Sized Science webinars are presented by UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant agents. During the webinars, viewers have the opportunity to listen and engage with researchers and scientists while learning about topics ranging from Florida marine life and invasive species like Lion Fish to learning the science behind artificial reefs and bioplastics.

 

Starting in June, Florida Sea Grant webinar topics will focus on harmful algal blooms and cover a range of marine-oriented themes. Webinars are 30 minutes long and include a Q&A with the presenter. Presentations will be recorded and participants will be sent a link to playback the recordings. While the webinars are for a general adult audience, upper-middle and high school students may benefit from supplementing their curriculum and we would encourage families with children to listen in and watch together.

 

Things You Can Make At Home

  • Edible Estuary 
    • Discover how biotic and abiotic components influence our ecosystems
  • Estuary Food Web 
    • This activity shows different animals and plants that live in estuaries and shows the complexity of a food web.
  • Beach Coloring Book
    • Great for kids to color, cut out and assemble. Best for K-2nd
 

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Get a round up of our latest activities and ideas delivered straight to your inbox so you don't miss a thing!

Find out when we release new resources by following us on social media!

 

Follow us on social media for even more science fun including fun facts, games, behind-the-scenes photos, and more!

 

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Support OSC At Home

In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Update for June 3 – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Precautions

Update: June 3, 2020

 

Regarding Summer Camp Check-in and Check-Out:

 

Please note that preschool campers will enter through Entrance A and all other campers will enter through the bridge in the garage. There has been a change to the times for check-in and check-out. Campers will be checked in no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and checked out no later than 5:00 p.m.

 

If you have questions regarding camp, please contact 407.514.2112 or email classes@osc.org.

 


Update: June 1, 2020

 

Thank you to everyone who responded to our recent survey about your expectations for your next visit to Orlando Science Center. We hear you and are using your feedback as we develop our plans and procedures for re-opening. Orlando Science Center remains closed for now, but we are getting ready so we can all be together again soon.

 

Our team is working very hard so we can offer you and your loved ones an educational and enjoyable experience while keeping a priority focus on the health and safety guidelines established by the CDC, state and local governments. We will share more updates soon. We can’t wait to see you!

 


Update: May 15, 2020

 

Orlando Science Center is currently closed to the public. Our team is using this time to prepare so we can provide an educational, enjoyable and safe experience for all our members and guests while following safety guidelines from the CDC, state and local governments.

 

Please stay connected with us through our social media channels and www.osc.org for updates regarding our hours and procedures. Our team is working very hard to get the Science Center ready. We can’t wait to see you!

 


 

Statement Regarding Summer Camps

Orlando Science Center will be able to hold summer camps even if the building is not yet open to the public. In addition to developing an engaging and educational curriculum, our team has worked with the American Camp Association and their CDC liaisons to help us design a high quality health and safety plan to support campers and staff.

 

STEM Summer Camps for May 25-29 have been rescheduled. All Orange County camps will start on June 1. STEM Virtual Camps will also be offered online to serve those campers who can’t physically attend camp. Online Registration for virtual camps will be available by May 20 with these camps beginning June 1.

 

For more information, please visit www.osc.org/summer-camps.

 


Update: March 20, 2020, 4:00 p.m.

 

Dear Friends,

 

We are living through some very challenging days. Circumstances have escalated quickly while other things feel like they’re happening in slow motion. It’s very surreal to look outside and observe these gorgeous spring days while the world is going through such a tumultuous storm of events.

 

As you may know, Orlando Science Center has closed its doors to the public as a precaution in the interests of public health. We are doing what we can to support our community and I know you are doing what is needed to keep you and your loved ones safe.

 

It feels odd to see the Science Center empty right now. We are so used to families playing and learning, school buses lining the driveway, and inquisitive people of all ages enjoying those “aha” moments. This loud, busy wonderful place is very, very quiet. But it will be loud again soon.

 

For now, we are closed until it is safe to be open. When that moment comes, please know we will be here for you. We have been in this community since 1955 and we aren’t going anywhere. My team is spending this time preparing for when we can see each other again to make sure we provide you with the high quality, hands-on experiences you deserve and expect from us.

 

Even though the public can’t visit us physically, I encourage you to stay connected with us via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and our website. Every day, we are sharing posts to engage with you and your loved ones while you’re at home. We are producing content and recommending activities from peer museums and trusted sources for you to enjoy. And some posts are just fun facts or photos of our animal ambassadors to provide a happy break from current events.

 

Orlando Science Center is more than just a building in Orlando’s Loch Haven Park. It is a community of passionate individuals dedicated to inspiring science learning for life. And that includes all of us, from our amazing OSC team to our members, donors, trustees, partners and volunteers, to each of you, your loved ones and our entire community of students, teachers, families and individuals. Together, we explore and share how science can unlock our potential, solve some of our most complex problems and create endless possibilities for knowledge, success and hope. Thank you so much for your continued trust and support.

 

Be strong. Be safe. We will see you soon.

 

Sincerely,

 

JoAnn Newman

President & CEO

 


Melrose Center 3D Printers Put to Work to Create PPE for Orlando Health

During quarantine, a team of makers from Orange County Library System has been using Melrose Center 3D printers and resources to create PPE.

In late March, Otronicon exhibitors Orange County Library System’s Melrose Center had their team investigating ways they could 3D print personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals. Working from home with Melrose Center 3D printers from the Fab Lab (a makerspace in the facility that offers hands-on classes and equipment for DIY projects), the team has been hard at work making visors, ear extenders and tension release bands for medical face shields by 3D printing or molding with liquid acrylic. Budmen Industries, a company that designs and sells 3D printers, provided files to staff to help create these PPE.

Fab Lab Instructor Harold Singh, using supplies at his home makerspace, began the initial process of printing these needed parts. With the help of his daughter, who works in the ICU, he delivered them to Orlando Health. At the same time, Fab Lab Instructor Yesenia Arroyo connected with the Central and South Florida chapters of the nonprofit Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies, a group working to connect makerspaces with medical professionals in need around the world. Soon after, the group received information from Orlando Health with details on what equipment could be accepted and work began. 

 

“The Melrose Center’s Fab Lab team is really happy to be able to join the maker community’s efforts to help our health care workers,” said Jim Myers, Department Head of The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation and Creativity. “They are a focused and energized bunch, and glad to be in a position to make a small difference. I’m really proud of them.”

 

Orange County Library System man wearing 3D printed PPE equipment

In early April, Arroyo and fellow Fab Lab Instructors Jennifer Michalicek and Frank Mackey each took home a Melrose Center 3D printer, filament and other supplies from the Fab Lab. Melrose staff now have four printers creating face shield parts, which take around two hours each to complete. Singh has also created a rubber mold of the visor frame and can produce an additional four per hour using liquid acrylic.

 

After creating and preparing the final products, staff were directed to Orlando Health’s drop off center.  As of April, the team had made and delivered 426 face shield visors, 102 ear extenders and 40 tension release bands. Production is expected to continue, Orange County Library System is privileged to help community medical professionals in this small way.  

Orange County Library System woman works makes PPE equipment for Orlando Health

Orlando Science Center Volunteers Inspire No Matter Where They Are

Orlando Science Center Volunteers Inspire Science Learning For Life!

 

Volunteer Appreciation Week may have been in April but we want to thank our devoted volunteers all year round for the amazing impact they have on everything we do! Despite the unusual circumstances we face surrounding COVID-19, Orlando Science Center volunteers continue to donate their time and energy to helping inspire science learning for life remotely. Volunteers are the backbone of the Orlando Science Center, and we would not be where we are today without their hard work, enthusiasm, and dedication.

Every day,  Science Center volunteers make a connection with someone which will last a lifetime. Whether they are explaining Newton’s Laws in Kinetic Zone, performing a science-based magic trick to an audience, or helping out behind the scenes — volunteers are the driving force behind our mission to inspire science learning for life.

Over the past year, 2,075 individuals volunteered at Orlando Science Center. These include Event Volunteers, Collegiate Interns, Adult Volunteers, and Catalyst Youth Volunteers. Each team brings their own unique skillsets, experiences, and authenticity to their service. You’ve probably seen them around the building wearing their various colored T-shirts!

 

These volunteers donated a total of 58,084 hours within the last 12 months. That’s 2,420 days worth of service! In that amount of time, you could read Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species 4,323 times if you read at an average of 250 words per minute. Because alligators have been recorded swimming upwards of 20 miles per hour, an alligator could swim over 1 million miles if it had 58,084 hours to do so (and if it never got tired)!

Orlando Science Center loves tracking data. It helps us define our goals, gives concrete perspective on our impact, and we also find it interesting and exciting! But data doesn’t truly get to the heart of what our volunteers do on a daily basis. Data has a hard time defining the joy on someone’s face when a volunteer helps them create something new. Data doesn’t always show the benefit of admin work completed by our volunteers behind the scenes. And it certainly doesn’t evoke the delight we get working every day with a wonderful team of volunteers.

 

Our volunteers are committed to making the world better able to tackle complex problems by thinking creatively and collaborating, and helping us move toward a more equitable future by striving for growth.

 

It is a privilege to work with so many dedicated, hardworking, and amazing volunteers. We hope you will join us in thanking them the next time you interact with someone! You can learn more about volunteering here.