Celebrating Black Innovators in Energy Science

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February 12, 2024

This month we focus on celebrating the life and work of Black American inventors, engineers, innovators, and scientists who have made a difference in the world of energy research and technology. These pioneers shaped critical features of our energy landscape, often without the recognition they deserved and while confronting prejudice and injustice. 

One such pioneer is Jessica Matthews. Matthews, a Nigerian-American inventor and CEO, is one of many Black innovators highlighted in this article by EERE. As the founder of Uncharted Play, she built a company that makes kinetic-energy harnessing products in order to “democratize energy access worldwide.” The company uses M.O.R.E. (Motion-based, Off-grid Renewable Energy) technology in a variety of everyday products, like soccer balls, to harness and store kinetic energy and to generate power.

Switch Classroom Connection

Switch Classroom helps students understand the science at the root of Matthews’ invention. Introduction to Electricity and The Importance of Storing Energy highlight how atoms flow and are stored. Additionally, Off-Grid Energy Solutions follows Dr. Scott Tinker to rural Kenya, where he discusses energy access with local entrepreneurs who aim to power people in off-grid communities. These creative, innovative, and resourceful solutions will inspire students and spark creativity.

Looking for ways to extend the discussion even further? Students can first consider all the ways that kinetic energy is a part of their everyday lives. As a class, in groups, or individually, challenge students to then explore how kinetic energy can be harnessed by drawing sketches or building prototypes of their own M.O.R.E. ideas, based on Matthew’s vision.

Register for Switch Classroom for free here to delve deeper into the world of energy innovation. Share these lessons on kinetic energy and its impact on daily life with your students and much more. Switch Classroom has over 500 engaging, high-quality, nonpartisan, and free resources.

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