The Courageous Chemistry of Dr. Percy Julian -- Author Kerrie Hollihan (STEM and NGSS aligned)

by  Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

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This program introduces students to the life and achievements of Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, a plant chemist who became the first African-American chemist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. As the scientific heir to George Washington Carver, he synthesized chemical compounds from beans to treat rheumatoid arthritis (cortisone), blindness (physostigmine) and miscarriage (progesterone). Among his 105 patents was a firefighting chemical that saved sailors and airmen at war, as well as one that made book pages easier to turn. He became one of the first African-Americans to work in private industry, and eventually he built his own company.

Julian overcame racism his entire life -- as a student, a professional, and a family man. His house in Oak Park, Illinois, where we were neighbors, was firebombed in 1951. In 1968, he intervened during a student sit-in at Howard University and helped to see it through to a peaceful end.

Program Rating

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About This Program


Point to Point: $300.00
Point to Point Premium: $270.00


45 minutes for 3rd-4th grade; 1 hour for grades 5-8

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Adult LearnersPublic Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:

There is no maximum, but for optimum interactivity, we suggest no more than 30 students.

Primary Disciplines

Character Education, Sciences, Social Studies/History

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc...)

Booking Information

Sorry, this program is not currently available. To inquire about future availability, please contact Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

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For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

We will not charge for programs cancelled due to nature i.e. snow days. The full fee will be charged to sites which cancel with less than 48 hours notice.

About This Provider

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Authors on Call, iNK Think Tank

White Plains, NY
United States

The Common Core State Standards have focused attention on process and using nonfiction in the classroom. Our Authors on Call from iNK Think Tank embody the CCSS. This team uses their extraordinary breadth of knowledge to transform today's classrooms into vital centers of learning. These authors are experts in processing enormous amounts of information, sifting through it and synthesizing it into works with added value. So why not talk to these masters of 21st century skillsand let them unpack their process for your students? They are eager to share their knowledge with you and to help you inspire your students with books kids love to read about subjects you're required to teach. So far our authors include Jan Adkins, Vicki Cobb,  Roxie Munro, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent,Carla Killough McClafferty, Kerrie Hollihan, Aline Alexander Newman, David M. Schwartz, Alexandra Siy,  Peggy Thomas, Marissa Moss, Jan Adkins, and Andrea Warren. Keep coming back as we add more authors and new programs.

Vicki Cobb

Program Details


Kerrie opens the program by recalling a walk with her own father and asking who lived in the house behind the big iron fence His answer: "That's Dr. Julian....a scientist." Years later, Hollihan embarked on her writing career by researching and writing a manuscript about Dr. Julian -- an answer to a lifelong wish to write books.

Kerrie then questions participants: What's your biggest wish? Older students will be challenged to take the question farther: How will you fulfill that wish?

Kerrie will present the life and work of Dr. Percy Lavon Julian (tailored to younger and older students) using slides and video to explain Julian's scientific and humanitarian achievements in context of American society and education from 1900 - 1976.

Students will be encouraged to ask questions during the presentation, and there will be time for a Q&A. Older adults will also enjoy learning about the man who changed the lives of so many in earlier generations.


Students will discover the scientific genius and accomplishments of a little-known African-American whose work made a huge impact on both science and industry.

Students will compare the educational experiences of Percy Julian in a segregated school with their own classrooms and schools.

Students will grasp how minorities and women challenged segregation and gender discrimination in order to achieve their personal ambition to study and work in scientific fields during the 20th century.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Science as Inquiry
Physical Science
Science & Technology
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
History and Nature of Science
U.S. History 5 - 12/ Eras 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; World History/ The 20th Century
Civics/ Values and Principles of Democracy

State Standards

Kerrie will assist teachers in aligning this program to state standards.