Forgotten Genius

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This series of chemistry stations is designed to accompany the PBS documentary about African-American chemist "Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius." Each of the six stations features either a chemical or physical change: mixing vinegar and metals (chemical), baking soda and vinegar (chemical), antacid tablets and water (chemical), cabbage juice indicator and acids and bases (chemical), sodium polyacrylate and water (physical), and cornstarch and water (physical). Connections are drawn to everyday chemical reactions in the "Changes in Everyday Life" handout.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • African American

    • Acknowledges this group's contributions to STEM
    • Addresses bias against this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • NOVA


  • All rights reserved, WGBH Educational Foundation, 2007

Funding Sources:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Corporation for PublicBroadcasting
  • Public Television Viewers
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • National Science Foundation, 9901978
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Playhouse
  • Mr. and Mrs. William G. Brown