Forgotten Genius

Activity Find Percy Julian

Ages 10 and older.

This scavenger hunt is made up of questions about the pioneering chemist Percy Julian. To answer these questions, you'll need to use library resources (books, magazines, reference materials, and the Internet). There is no time limit; working by yourself, with a partner, or with members of your family, take as long as you need to track down responses to each set of questions. When you're done, ask your librarian to check your answers. There's a small prize for a completed questionnaire. Enjoy the search!

  1. Percy Julian's Childhood
    1. In what city did Julian live as a boy? ___________________
    2. When was he born? _____________________
    3. What are the names of his parents?
      _________________________ and
  2. Percy Julian's Education
    1. What university did Julian get his bachelor's degree from?______________
    2. What university did Julian get his master's degree from?_______________
    3. In what city did he earn his Ph.D.?_______________
  3. Scientific Breakthroughs
    1. Julian discovered a soy protein which was used to create a fire-fighting substance during World War II. What was the name of that substance? ___________
    2. Julian found a way to synthesize (make in the lab) a chemical found in soybeans. This chemical (Compound S) was the basis for a synthetic version of a drug used to treat millions of arthritis sufferers. What is the name of this drug? ____________
    3. What civic honor was bestowed upon Julian in 1950? __________
  4. Standing for Justice
    1. How did Julian respond when racists firebombed his family's house in Oak Park, Illinois? ____________
    2. What civil rights group gave Julian a major award in 1947? ____________
    3. In what year did the U.S. Postal Service issue a stamp in honor of Julian? _______________
  5. Scientists of Color Today
    Percy Julian paved the way for countless other people of color to enter the sciences. Locate a biography of another scientist of color and skim the introduction. Scientist's name: _________________________________

    What is the focus of this scientist's work? ______________________

  6. Which library resources did you use to find your information?




Learning More

Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists
by Lynda Jones and Ron Garnett (illustrator). Scholastic, Cartwheel Books, 2000.
Describes the early lives and key achievements of Percy Julian and four other scientists.

Science Alive! The Life and Science of Percy Julian
Offers a comprehensive and interactive look at Julian's life and career, with rich material on his childhood, college years, scientific discoveries, and civil rights work. Includes illuminating pictures, activities, readings, a time line, and a comprehensive teacher's guide.

Julian in lab

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