Despite what science textbooks include or omit, there are inventors other than Albert Einstein and innovative cultures beyond America and Europe--as Van Nuys Middle School students can well attest.
On Thursday, about 70 seventh-graders at the school will display their knowledge of diverse cultures and inventors to parents, peers and elementary students during the school's second Multicultural Invention and Discovery Fair.
With props, costumes, maps and artifacts, the students will act out the roles of famous and not-so-famous inventors in the form of five-minute skits, interviews and narratives at stations scattered through two classrooms.
So, alongside a display about Einstein's theory of relativity will be information about anthropologist Margaret Mead and her study of Samoan native life and a booth about the Mayan civilization's hieroglyphics and astronomy.
"We tried to get the students to study people who are less known to them," said Amanda Rubins, the school Math and Science Magnet coordinator. "Everyone knows Ben Franklin."
Although some of the studied cultures or inventors are lesser known, they are often more relevant to the middle school's diverse student body, Rubins said.
"It builds self-esteem and a sense of cultural heritage and pride," she said. "We want the students to realize, 'My ancestors were very important.' "
The fair will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the school, 5435 Vesper Ave. For details, call (818) 785-5475.