Science Museum hosts

Pamela Steinle

Two curly, brown-haired sisters listened Saturday as Karen Ruth-Jarmon, a black manager in sterilization services at Medtronic, held up a petri dish encasing long, rod-like growths.

“Is this a bacteria, yeast, virus or mold?” asked Ruth-Jarmon.

The girls pondered the question with serious faces as they looked closely at the organism.

In honor of Black History Month, the Science Museum of Minnesota hosted the 10th Annual African-Americans in Science program, a two-time event that will culminate Saturday.

“It’s an opportunity for people of color to have role models in the science and technology industry,” said Jody Anderson, an employee placement specialist at the museum who helped plan the event.

The event has grown from six scientists presenting to a few hundred visitors into a two-day event with 24 educators and as many as 7,000 visitors each day.

Guests can get a virtual tour of the eye, experiment with liquid nitrogen or check out an interactive Web site about one of Jupiter’s moons.

But Black History Month is not just for black people, said University alumus Anthony Taylor, a chemist at Spa One and presenter at the Science of a Good Hair Day display.

“Everyone needs to have a clear understanding of the contributions of the people that are part of this country’s fabric,” Taylor said.

Taylor said there is a legacy of contributions that have been hidden and Black History Month helps ensure these accomplishments are recognized.

“Other groups of people are following suit and creating their own history reflection,” Taylor said.

Educator Barbara Harris-O’Neal and her 11-year-old son Cameron volunteered Saturday to hand out pamphlets for the event.

“I’ve been telling people to come out and see this,” O’Neal said. “I want them to know how wonderful it is.”

O’Neal said one of her favorite role models is feminist Madame C.J. Walker, the first U.S. female millionaire.

Walker was ahead of her time not only because of her hair-care inventions but also in her advocacy for social and economic justice, and gender and racial equity, O’Neal said.

O’Neal said she wants her son and other children to see black people have a wide range of talent.

“African-Americans do more than just work at car washes, be basketball players or be in sports,” she said.

Cameron O’Neal said it was important to him to learn about black people who have accomplished great things in life.

“I’m inspired because it makes me want to go out and do something they did,” he said.

Pamela Steinle welcomes comments at [email protected]