top of page

life + work + parenthood + COMMUNITY

  • Writer's pictureSadia Wells

Games You Can Play With Your Family to Remember Black Inventors

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Photo Courtesy of Edi Libedinsky on Unsplash

Do you ever sit back and think “I wondered who invented this thing I use every day in my life?” Well, more than likely a Black person made your life a little easier... African Americans have contributed a great deal to the science and technology that we have in the U.S today.

And if you want to educate your children (and maybe yourself) a little on those inventions and their creators, try playing games and having some family fun time. Check out the people who made life easier.

1- Garret Morgan: Traffic lights/Red light, Greenlight

Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. was an African-American inventor, businessman, and community leader. His most notable inventions were a three-position traffic signal and a smoke hood notably used in a 1916 tunnel construction disaster rescue.

In 1923, Morgan came up with the three-way traffic signal after witnessing a carriage incident in Chicago. The next time you're in traffic I hope you think of Garret Morgan. Playing red light, green light with your kids is the perfect way to remember Morgan!

2- James E. West: Electronic Mic/Karaoke

James Edward Maceo West is an American inventor and acoustician. He holds over 250 foreign and U.S. patents for the production and design of microphones and techniques for creating polymer foil electrets. These patents granted us the ability to have the different microphones we have today.

Pick your favorite song, get your microphone (or your imaginary one) and sing your heart out.

Photo Courtesy of Fred Koutchinski on Unsplash

3- Patricia Era Bath: Cataract Surgery/Eye spy with my little eye

Patricia Era Bath was an inventor, humanitarian, and academic. In 1986, she became an inventor of laser cataract surgery. Her invention was called Laserphaco Probe.

She was also the first African American to complete ophthalmology. When learning this information, all I could think about is the childhood game everyone used to play: eye spy. It is always fun to identify something with your little eye.

4- Alexander Miles: Elevator opening/Elevator Game

Alexander Miles was an African American businessman and inventor known for his patent for creating automatic opening and closing elevator doors. Before his designs in 1876, riders had to open and close the door manually! Talk about a safety hazard... The mechanism created by Miles forced both elevator doors to close simultaneously.

The Elevator game is a fairly new but exciting one, and it is a great way to keep your children active.

How to play:

  1. Each floor represents how many hops, jumping jacks, or any type of exercise you would like to do.

  2. Once you finish, the elevator doors open.

  3. Once they open, you are surprised to see the floor is made of ice. You skate around for 30 seconds.

  4. Afterward, you run back inside the elevator and someone else gets to pick what floor to go to.

If this sounds a little bit overwhelming, here is a full explanation of the elevator game for kids.

5- Frederick McKinley Jones: Automatic Refrigeration System/Freeze Tag

In the 40s, the only way to keep food cold during a long route to other destinations was by using ice. But we all know that even ice melts eventually. It was thanks to Frederick McKinley Jones, who successfully invented the mobile refrigerator system that allowed grocery stores to buy and sell products, that people were able to go at a far distance without having to worry about spoiling through transportation.

Freeze tag is a fun way to celebrate Jones's invention. After a long game of fun, have something fresh from the fridge and just remember that Jones made it possible.

Sadia Wells is a recent graduate student with a BS in Journalism and Mass Communication with a concentration in Mass Media Production from North Carolina A&T State University. She currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page