Amy Minervini

Pioneer – a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development (Merriam-Webster definition)


Hello, and welcome to our textbook!

We’ve all heard and read about the genius of Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, and Steve Jobs, and we appreciate their great contributions to society. However, there are so many other inventors who haven’t been given the attention and space that these and other men have been given, particularly in classroom textbooks.

The intention of Pioneers in STEM: Ingenious Innovations by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color is to highlight the genius of non-white individuals who have contributed to the vast invention landscape. We also want to elevate and give a platform to the curiosity, inventiveness, and drive of Black, Indigenous, and people and women of color who may be or may have been overlooked or simply not written about in history or science books. It is our distinct pleasure and privilege to briefly highlight the ingenuity of BIPOC individuals who have come before us and forged new pathways of discovery, efficiency, and a desire to make their communities, and society in general, better. 

Our target audience is twofold: students (ranging from 6th to 9th grade) and their teachers.

For students, we have provided:

    • Short summaries
    • Photo of inventor or invention or both
    • Multimedia–video/audio of inventor, invention, or influence today/modern-day application
    • Comprehension/check your understanding exercise–short H5P quiz
    • Written activities/prompts based on common modes. We want to hear your voice added to the mix!
    • List of references in MLA format
    • Explore more (links to additional resources about the inventor and/or invention or additional critical thinking opportunities and/or creative application

For teachers, this book might serve as a supplement/ancillary to your current textbook or teaching resources, and for you we have included:

    • Brief readings, video/audio (if there is one), short comprehension activity, writing exercises/prompts based on common modes: personal narrative, informative, and argument. These could be used for in-class writing assignments, homework activities, or primers for state testing
    • Grade level readability (Flesch Kincaid)
    • Writing prompts aligned with ELA Common Core standards
    • Self-contained, standalone/modular practicality OR for use as a group/class research project
    • Inclusion of STEM and DEI subject matter that can be used in science, social studies/history, English language arts, communication, and/or technology classes

And for the curious who just happened upon us, we welcome you in this space, too! We learned a lot by researching these inventors and hope that you, too, will appreciate the ways in which these pioneers have made an impact on the things that you eat, see, use, and access in everyday life.

Indeed, we hope that when you read about some of these amazing creators, you say, “I didn’t know that!” And at the same time, we encourage you to critically question why we may never have heard or been taught about the multidimensional individuals who identified a problem and breathed life into their innovative solutions. We also trust that readers like you will value the heavy emotional labor shouldered by these inventors as they broke glass ceilings, fought for civil rights and fair and equitable treatment, and helped reshape the contours of what it means to be an originator, a pioneer in the scientific milieu.

We have intentionally included a mixture of historical and modern-day inventions (because inventing never stops!) and have loosely organized these talented inventors by STEM discipline. All videos are closed-captioned. When at all possible, we used images in the Public Domain or with a Creative Commons license. This book is licensed CC-BY-NC.

At the end of the textbook, please find a feedback form where you can provide suggestions on what you liked about this textbook, ways in which you’re using it in the classroom or community, suggestions for additional inventors to include, and approaches to improve upon this resource.

We would like to acknowledge and thank our exemplary peer reviewers:

  • Adronisha Frazier, Assistant Professor of Biology and Natural Sciences Department Chair, Northshore Technical Community College
  • Makala Peterson, Scientist, Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories
  • Jessica Riggs, Student, Lewiston High School

And to our readers, thank you so much for accessing this textbook and sharing it across your teaching, learning, and social networks! We appreciate any efforts to amplify the stories of these amazing innovators!

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Mae Jemison, pioneer in space science, first African American female astronaut



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