Calling all STEM nerds, enthusiasts, and appreciators alike! Have you ever wondered how saltwater converts into freshwater? Or perhaps you’re curious about how we, as a society, began tracking climate change. Well, you’re in luck!
Witness the extraordinary work in science, medicine, mathematics, and engineering from pivotal African American figures at the latest Nauticus-hosted exhibit, The Creative Mind. While new to Norfolk, The Creative Mind exhibit has been around since 2012, originally existing as a photographic portrait collection curated by the African American History Program at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Since then, the exhibit has been showcased across venues nationwide to many audiences, spreading educational awareness about the significant contributions of often-overlooked African American STEM pioneers. Visitors can look forward to learning more about the transformational work and advancements through a series of educational panels along with models and activities supported and facilitated by the Nauticus Foundation.
Experience and observe the legacy of renowned figures in their respective fields like Dr. Charles Drew, whose groundbreaking techniques and advocacy introduced the possibilities of using all blood types. His work included standardizing long-term blood preservation and establishing safe procedures for collecting and storing blood plasma, a development critical in World War II. Dr. Drew also advocated against blood discrimination in response to the Red Cross’s refusal to accept blood donated from African Americans, ultimately leading to the Red Cross changing its policy. Today, the impact of Charles Drew’s research is visible in more unexpected ways, with scientists branching out to utilize the beneficial properties of Horseshoe crab blood in detecting harmful contaminants in drugs and medical devices. As a part of the exhibit, guests can conduct their test of Horseshoe crab blood and watch its effectiveness first-hand. Visitors can also take an active role in the NexTrex recycling challenge by bringing plastic bags to help Nauticus combat plastic pollution, putting innovative techniques developed by chemical engineer W. Lincoln Hawkins into practice.
The Creative Mind’s residency arrives at an appropriate time as Nauticus plans to celebrate Afrofuturism—the intersection of black history and culture related to art, science, and philosophy—this February in observance of Black History Month. And while the exhibit lines up perfectly with Black History Month celebration plans, it would be remiss not to recognize the importance of acknowledging the significant contributions made by African Americans year-round. Thanks to institutions like the National Academy of Sciences and Nauticus, the diligent work of such esteemed yet disregarded individuals is showcased adequately for the public to learn.
Tickets run from $15.95 per adult and $11.50 per child (plus tax); admission is free for Nauticus members. Paid admission also grants access to the Nauticus museum, other special programming, and the Battleship Wisconsin, so make sure to plan your day accordingly. Nauticus is open Tuesday—Saturday (10 AM – 5 PM) and Sunday (12 PM – 5 PM). View tickets and additional details here.
Jasmine Rodriguez is a culture and music enthusiast based out of Virginia. When she's not writing for music blogs, you can find her working on her latest themed playlists, scouring for more new music, and taking pictures of her friends and life around her.