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Black History Month

The Virginia Living Museum celebrates Black History Month with information and activities relating to African American scientists. On Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 pm join us to explore the fields of study that these Doctors and researchers advance every day.

February 1-7: Dr. Earyn McGee

Activity

  • What is camouflage? Camouflage is a way of hiding something by covering or coloring it so that it looks like its surroundings. Why would an animal want to camouflage?
  • Dr. McGee created a social media game called Find That Lizard, kind of like Where’s Waldo or I Spy. Somewhere in the picture is a lizard that is pretty well hidden due to its camouflage. Can you find that lizard?

Bio

Dr. Earyn McGee is a herpetologist and received her PhD at the University of Arizona. Her research currently focuses on lizards in the Chiricahua Mountains and how they may be affected by stream drying. Earyn is passionate about diversity in natural resource careers and science communication. She is probably most known for her viral social media game #FindThatLizard. In June of 2018, Earyn posted on Twitter a picture of a lizard camouflaged so well even she had a hard time finding it! Since then, every week Earyn shares a picture of lizard and asks everyone to #FindThatLizard. Earyn hopes to someday host her own natural history tv show. Find Earyn and #FindThatLizard on Twitter under the handle @afro_herper. 

February 8-14: James West

Activity

  • What is acoustics? Acoustics is the branch of physics concerned with the properties of sound. Microphones and speakers, like the ones in your phone or in your car, all rely on acoustical engineering.
  • You can study acoustics using some simple materials. Try this tin can phone. Why does this work? Sound travels through waves and vibrations. With the tin can telephone, speaking into one can then sends the sound vibrations through the string to the other can. Try a tin can phone with a shorter piece of twine and try one with a longer piece of twine. Do they sound the same or different? The sound is louder when there is a shorter distance it has to travel and softer when it travels a longer distance. 

Bio

James West was born in Farmville, VA. His mother was a math teacher who went on to work at the Langley Research Center as one of the human computers we now call the Hidden Figures. After graduating from Temple University with a degree in physics, James went on to work at Bell Labs in New Jersey for forty years. While at Bell Labs, he and his research partner Gerhard Sessler invented the foil electret microphone. Nearly 90% of all microphones made today are based on this technology and are used in things like telephones, camcorders, hearing aids, baby monitors, and audio recording devices. He holds more than 60 U.S. patents and more than 200 foreign patents. James has been a research professor at Johns Hopkins since 2001 and at 90 is still working, currently on a device to detect pneumonia in infant lungs. 

February 15-21: Dr. Andre Douglas

Activity

  • What does it take to be an astronaut? The three basic requirements to apply are: degree in engineering, biological or physical science, computer science, or math, three years of related professional experience or 1,000 hours of piloting, and pass the NASA long-duration Astronaut physical. Once you become a candidate, it takes about two years to complete NASA’s training program. 
  • What would it be like to try to work on the International Space Station while on a space walk? Astronauts wear protective suits with big thick gloves that have multiple layers. Try wearing garden gloves to test your space walk dexterity.

Bio

Dr. Andre Douglas was selected to join NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class this year. Andre grew up in Chesapeake, Virginia and graduated from West Branch High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, then went on to get three master’s degrees and just finished his doctorate with George Washington University last year. Andre gained NASA experience while working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) planetary defense mission. Andre and the nine other candidates were chosen out of 12,000 applications! Training will take about two years to complete and includes International Space Station systems training, spacewalk skills training, and aircraft flight readiness training.

February 22-28: Khalia Braswell

Activity

  • What is coding? Coding, sometimes called computer programming, is how we communicate with computers. Code tells a computer what actions to take, and writing code is like creating a set of instructions. By learning to write code, you can tell computers what to do or how to behave in a much faster way. You can use this skill to make websites and apps, process data, and do lots of other cool things.
  • Khalia Braswell’s INTech Camp for Girls teaches girls programming, robotics, web design and mobile app development.

Bio

Khalia Braswell first became interested in computers in fourth grade when her mother bought her one. She began coding in HTML on MySpace and went on to attend Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte, NC for high school. Khalia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and a Masters of Information Technology at North Carolina State University. While working at Apple, Khalia created INTech Camp for Girls to inform and inspire girls to innovate in the technology industry. INTech targets Black and Latina girls in grades 6th – 12th through summer camps and after school programs. Girls are taught how to build software solutions, introduced to women of color in tech, and explore tech careers. Khalia is currently a PhD student at Temple University.