Grade level:


Approximate Lesson Duration:

45 minutes

Unit/Lesson New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS):

  • 9.2.8.C4 Evaluate how traditional and nontraditional careers have evolved regionally, nationally, and globally
  • 9.2.12.C4 Analyze how economic conditions and societal changes influence employment trends and future education.
  • 9.2.12.C5 Research career opportunities in the United States and abroad that require knowledge of diverse cultures.

Brief Summary of Cultural Competencies Related to the Unit/Lesson:

What makes this lesson culturally relevant? This lesson examines the lives of scientists marginalized by their identity as queer. At the intersection of gender identity in STEM are additional factors around race, geography and nationality that shape the personal biography of each scientist being studied.

Lesson Overview:

Essential Question(s)

How might one’s personal story/history shape their research and/or life’s work?

Enduring Understanding(s)

Personal identity and life experiences contribute to ways of thinking about problems and purpose.

Potential Misconceptions


Learning plan, experiences, intstruction and learning activities:

What is Expected?
  • List the intentional learning objectives on the board.

Students will be able to:

  • Research the life of STEM agents from the LGBT community
  • Identify the research focus of at least two STEM agents from the LGBT community

Today we will be working on…biographical research in context of place and time.

What is expected?
How will we hook (Introduce this to) the students?
  • Activate thinking
  • Consider the language you will use to introduce the lesson (See example in the table)

Link to Engagement

Recently, we…did a quick biographical search. Identify details about who Sally Ride was according to her friend that are new to you.

Identify lesser known scientists; create a list of their contributions to STEM fields. If students cannot identify names provide some examples:

  • S. Josephine Baker
  • Sonja Kovalevsky
  • Louise Pearce
  • Bruce Voeller
  • George Washington Carver (Amistad)
  • Bessie Coleman (Amistad)
  • Susan La Flesche Picotte

Turn and talk to a partner about…our time and place. What are major world issues that could be used to shape our life’s work?

You are really beginning to understand PERSONAL BIOGRAPHIES. Today, we’re going to dig deeper with a new focus. This focus is…HISTORICAL CONTEXTS for INVENTION and INNOVATION. Ask yourself WHY certain technologies and inventions are developed?

What equipment, resources, or materials are needed?
How will we rethink or revise our thinking throughout the lesson?
  • What learning is confirmed?
  • What misconceptions are uncovered?
  • What is your new thinking?

Throughout the lesson, learners are encouraged to focus on both the place where their scientist lives/works and the time period during which the scientist lived. As students conduct research about the individual scientist, they may also connect to specific historical events using resources including the timelines available through Amistad.

Misconceptions about how and why people become scientists may be addressed by additional conversation but people will generally have the ability to choose their career.

How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning?

Students will reflect on their own interests and learning. Although some students may not be interested in STEM fields, they will have opportunities to reflect on their own personal stories and interests.

How will we tailor learning to varied needs, interests, and learning styles?

Students can choose from a full list of scientists based on geography, content area, or other identity markers.

How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction

  • Model: Provide students with a biography of George Washington Carver and copy of one of his patents (US PATENT 1522176) which can be searched on Google Scholar. Put his work in historical context of other developments in the United States during that time period.
  • Guided Practice: Based on the biography of Dr. Carver, determine specific details about his biography that may have influenced his decisions to become an agricultural chemist.
  • Independent Practice: Students have opportunities to work in small and individual groups to conduct their own research.

Check for understanding:

(Formative evidence such as conferencing, group Q/A, teacher observation, exit-slip, etc.)

Conferencing with teacher about possible research subject.

Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)


Performance Task/Project:
(attach rubric)
  • Create an information brochure for an individual scientist/mathematician
  • Create a wall map of notable queer STEM agents by geography and research interest

Rubric for presentation available online.


Download Lesson Plan PDF:


_______ like me: STEM Biography 86.96 KB 4 downloads

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