Program Ideas and Tips
Programs and Events
Invite a guest speaker to deliver a lecture or slide show. Topics
to consider include Percy Julian's life and work; breakthroughs in chemistry
and the resulting impact on society; contributions of scientists of color
and/or female scientists; discrimination in education, housing, sports,
science, or other arenas and the ways in which activists have challenged such
bigotry; and life during the Jim Crow era in the South, the North, and in your
community. Contact a local university for presenters. Distribute copies of the
"Who Was Percy Julian?" handout, if applicable.
- Show videos about famous scientists and/or civil rights leaders.
After each, have a facilitator lead a follow-up discussion to explore the
person's life and work, the impact of the scientific innovations, or ongoing
challenges to achieving full equality.
- Hold a science essay contest. Invite young adults to submit essays
of up to 500 words on "How have scientific advances improved your life?" Work
with a local science teacher to develop judging criteria. Award prizes and see
if your local newspapers will publish the winning entry. Display the essays in
- Sponsor a "What Do Chemists Do?" program. Ask a local teacher to
bring in chemistry equipment (vials, beakers, burners, etc.) for display. Talk
about scientific method and related books and resources in the library. Do the
"Changing States" science activity provided in this kit. Make it a
multi-week program: add the "Seeing Is Believing" activity and science
activities in this kit or from the resources in the Bibliography.
- Host a Jeopardy-style game. Work with representatives from a local
university's chemistry and history departments to create questions highlighting
scientific advances made by Percy Julian, scientists from other fields, and
civil rights activists. Award small prizes.
- Organize a storytime, video presentation, or Family Science Fun Night.
Present an age-appropriate book or video about a famous scientist or civil
rights leader (see the Bibliography for suggestions). Then do some of
the fun science activities in this kit.
- Conduct a science activity. Use an age-appropriate activity from
this kit to introduce children to some of the scientific advances made by Percy
Julian. Recruit high school students or science club members to help.
- Create a picture board. Read a book on Percy Julian or another
notable scientist of color, have children work in groups to create a series of
drawings or a mural illustrating the person's life. (Younger children can color
the "Percy Julian and His Work" coloring sheet in this kit.) Display the
- Sponsor a scavenger hunt. Use the "Find Percy Julian"
handout to introduce families to Percy Julian's life and work. Award small
prizes for each completed scavenger hunt.
Activities Using Library Resources
- Arrange a rare book room tour. Arrange a guided tour for patrons
of texts and artifacts related to science or civil rights.
- Create bookmarks. Create a series of reproducible bookmarks to
highlight your library's resources on scientists of color and/or civil rights
activists. Type your resource information on the bookmarks, copy, and
- Highlight original documents. Plan a discussion about advances in
science or the struggle for equal rights. Use copies of primary and secondary
source materials related to the topic, then provide guidance on how and where
patrons can locate these materials in the library. Resources to highlight
include online databases, newspapers, journals, and reference works.
- Sponsor a song-writing contest. Have young adults research a local
or national civil rights leader and create a song—rap, ballad,
rock—about that person. Host a public performance of the winning songs at
- Hold an innovators gallery competition. Prepare a list of call
numbers or keyword search terms related to innovators in science, civil rights,
and other areas. Ask young adults to complete "The Innovators Gallery"
handout, explaining that the stamp designs and profiles they create will be
entered into a contest. Display their creations on a bulletin board and invite
patrons to vote for their choice of top innovator. Award a prize for the
- Create resource posters or bookmarks. Identify the location of
resources in the children's area related to civil rights and its leaders,
notable scientists, and the importance of science in our daily lives. Then have
children create and hang posters or bookmarks to mark the locations.
- Play the "Who Am I?" game. Distribute the "Who Am I?"
handout, which asks kids to match each profile to the corresponding
- Host a word hunt. Give children a list of science terms commonly
used in chemistry (such as experiment, laboratory, data, and
chemical) or associated with the Civil Rights movement (such as Jim
Crow, segregation, discrimination, and nonviolence). Ask them to use
library resources to find the meaning of each term. Provide a small prize to
each child who completes the task.
- Make molecules. Show some images of molecules to children, then
provide marshmallows, wooden craft sticks, and other materials for them to
construct their own unique molecules.
Library Display Ideas
Percy Julian's Life and Work
- Books and videos on Percy Julian. Display one or more photographs
of Percy Julian, selected books and videos (see the Bibliography for
suggestions), and some of the activity handouts and display sheets in this kit.
Breakthroughs in Chemistry
- Chemistry's benefits. Create a wall or table display highlighting
inventions or discoveries by chemists. Some chemists to consider include
Rosalind Franklin (DNA), Leo Baekeland (plastic), Marie Curie (radium), and
Percy Julian (plant chemistry). Include selected books and videos about
chemistry, and display sheets from this kit.
- Science activities. Showcase one of the science activities in this
kit along with selected books. Have copies of the activity handout available
- Science fair projects. Display selected science fair projects
created by students. You might want to display a series of projects so that
students at different schools in your area can see their work highlighted.
Contact local science curriculum coordinators and homeschool groups for
- A new generation of scientists. Invite local colleges and
universities to contribute materials (such as academic and extracurricular
program information, career information, etc.) for a display on opportunities
for students to study science in your city or state. (You may want to use the
"I'm a Chemist" display sheet.)
Civil Rights Milestones
- The long road to equality. Select and display titles and resources
based on a theme, such as young people and the Civil Rights movement, pivotal
court cases, or the history of school desegregation in the United States.
- Local civil rights events and activists. Create a display on local
events with historical significance and heroes. You might want to weave these
events into a national civil rights time line (see books and resources under
"Civil Rights Milestones" in the Bibliography, including Civil Rights: A
Pioneering Scientists of Color
- Scientists who made a difference. Create a wall or table book
display highlighting scientists of color. Use the enclosed "African American
Scientists" display sheet and books in the Bibliography for other
scientists. Consider featuring scientists from your area.
- Did You Know? Create a display featuring artifacts from the work
of scientists of color that answer the question "Did You Know?" Artifacts can
include pictures of their inventions or the actual invention (e.g., empty pill
bottle). See the "Who Am I?" handout, the "African American
Scientists" display sheet, and the Bibliography for suggested
"For the first time in my life, I represent a creating, alive, and wide-awake
- Contact the outreach coordinator at your local PBS affiliate to help plan
and promote your events.
- Offer materials on your library Web site. Link to online downloadable
versions of the handouts included in this kit. Augment these resources with a
calendar of events and programs or related books.
- Create and distribute posters and fliers announcing your event or
- Send event information to media outlets, such as newspapers, science
center and club newsletters, and local radio and television stations. Supply
the information to community, city, and school Web sites in your area.
Think about offering incentives for contests and other events. Incentives might include
tickets to a local museum or science center, books or videos on Percy Julian or related
topics, math games or manipulatives, construction toys, or science project supplies.
Contact local retailers such as hobby and craft stores, toy stores, and bookstores for possible
"The story I will tell you tonight is a story of wonder and amazement, almost a
story of miracles. It is the story of laughter and tears. It is a story of
human beings, therefore, a story of meanness, of stupidity, of kindness and
"What marvelous laboratories plants are. You can't imagine the joy it's given
me to work with the natural laboratories over the years."
- Use copies of the Bibliography, activities, and display sheets provided
in this kit to enhance your displays.
- When creating display titles, use a few short words in large type size
along with alliterative phrases to grab patrons' attention (for example,
"Contributions to Chemistry" or "Julian's Genius").
- Use fabric instead of paper for bulletin board backgrounds—it lasts
longer and is easy to reuse.
- Cover tables with cloth or plastic tablecloths. Place one or more small
boxes or stands on a table to create risers. Highlight one book or display item
on each riser to create an appealing table display.
- To create a poster-size picture for display, photocopy a copyright-free
image on a transparency, then use an overhead projector to magnify it onto a
large piece of paper taped to a wall. Trace the outline of the image and then
color it in to make the poster. You may want to laminate or cover it with clear
- Borrow beakers, test tubes, and other science equipment from a local
school or university to enhance the display.