Science Heroes


Science heroes can come from any place or time, but since I’m posting this during Asian and Pacific American History Month, I’d like to start with China.

One year, I taught English to a group of Chinese physics students. They taught me that science heroes were lauded in their nation as sports heroes are in the United States. I’d love to see that attitude in the U.S.

Let’s start with Ancient China’s contributions to science:

  • thinkquest on Ancient Chinese technology.
  • Inventions credited to Ancient China include the compass, paper, ink, printing, fireworks, gunpowder, porcelain, the wheelbarrow, the seismograph, umbrellas, multi-stage rockets, the process of casting iron, row agriculture, winnowing, clocks, matches, kites, noodles, the abacus, paper money, and saddles, among many other things. Have a reference race, using encyclopedias or search engines, and find as many Chinese inventions as possible in one hour. This can be a team sport,or let it be a cooperative practice of research skills. Have students write the names of inventions on cards as they find them, and compile a bulletin board or pocket chart collection of them.
  • One of our favorite lessons on this topic is a reconstruction of the ancient Chinese seismograph. Read here about this lesson and try it yourself.

Some links on modern China’s science:

  • The illustration for this post is one of the promotional posters for China’s space program. Compare these with NASA’s artwork and discuss the difference between the presentation of the taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) and American astronaouts. Add Russian cosmonauts for further discussion.
  • Chinese stamps honor modern scientists. Practice research skills by learning about these scientist’s contributions.
  • Dragon Science has a lesson on fuzzy logic and binary processing, using simple examples to get this complex concept across. China is now the leader in “fuzzy science.”
  • Some describe China as a “technocracy”: a nation ruled by scientists and engineers. Here is a Time article on the subject which would make a good reading passage for middle and high school.

Now let’s create some science heroes for our own classrooms:

  • Here you will find an assortment of science heroes from the My Hero project. This is a great time to participate in this project, if your school hasn’t done so yet!
  • Once your class comes up with some science heroes, design Science Hero Trading Cards. Check out Albert Einstein’s Trading Card at The (Real) Heroes Club for inspiration. Here is a diagram from Mirkwood showing how to cut card stock into trading card shapes with the least waste; get some measuring skills practice in with this, or use this PDF template. From the same source, a printable card case for your collection
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  1. Pingback: Asian American Heritage Month Lesson Plan Round-up : My Fresh Plans

  2. I think someone may be considered a hero for what they have done and what they have achieved. It is in their (past) deeds, not in their being, not in their character, not in themselves.

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