11 George Washington Carver Facts For Kids
George Washington Carver was an American inventor and scientist, and what is called a botanist. A botanist is someone who studies plants so they can know better how to make them grow. He was also an educator and taught other people about the things he learned about farms and crops.
Carver was actually born into slavery, meaning that both his parents were slaves and so he was automatically considered a slave too, in either 1861 or 1864. Even though he was a slave in his life, he wanted to make life better for everyone around him including those who owned the farms where he was forced to work.
While the work that George Washington Carver did was very important to the farmers at the time, it’s also very important to farmers living today. This is because he understood how crops affected the dirt they were planted in and why it’s good to plant different crops rather than just one. Take a look at some fun facts about his life and about why farmers still pay attention to the things he taught all those years ago.
Carver was living on a plantation or cotton farm in the south and while he was very young, he and a sister as well as his mother, all of them slaves, were kidnapped to be sold to another family. The owner of the cotton farm, a man named Moses Carver, hired someone else to find all of them but only George was found and returned.
When slavery became illegal, Moses Carver and his wife raised George as their own son, giving him their last name. They were actually very kind to him as a boy, encouraging him to learn and then to share with the world everything he would learn. When he was older he applied to several colleges but he was denied entry because at that time, a black person could not go to any college they wanted.
Carver began to move around after some time, working in Kansas and owning a small farm where he planted a variety of crops and began to learn about the soil and how crops grow. He then eventually moved to Iowa and began studying piano at a local college, and also began painting, mostly pictures of different types of plants and crops. He had an art teacher who realized how much he loved plants and flowers and growing things, and who encouraged him to study botany.
Carver then went to study at Iowa State Agricultural College, where he was the first black person allowed to be a student. From there he eventually went on to Tuskegee University where Carver taught for 47 years. He was so appreciated that he was given extra rooms at the college and a higher salary than anyone else who taught there.
Teaching Botany and About Plants
One of the things that Carver learned about over the years when studying plants and farming is that the soil or ground can get depleted of healthy minerals when a farmer plants the same crop over and over again. Each different type of crop planted needs a certain type of mineral and other elements it gets from the ground, and when only one crop is planted year after year, it will use up all those healthy minerals.
To help farmers keep the ground healthy, Carver encouraged them to plant things other than cotton, one of the largest and most popular crops farmed at the time. One crop he encouraged people to plant was the peanut, and to help people understand how beneficial peanuts are, he actually printed a recipe book with some 150 ways to use peanuts in cooking. He even encouraged peanut farmers to make a substitute for cow’s milk by using peanuts and soybeans. Today people can find soy milk and almond milk on most store shelves.
Using the information Carver gave them, farmers found that their crops grew much better when they rotated them, or planted different crops each time rather than the same crop over and over. The ground was richer and their plants were healthier. Many farmers also realized that they could make more money by planting a crop that was different than what everyone else was planting. Soon many of them began planting soybeans during the years they didn’t plant peanuts and cotton, and their farms became very successful.
Today George Washington Carver is still known for his research into farming and how certain crops being planted can affect the ground, and farmers still use the information he shared and taught to keep their plants healthy. Some say he discovered the peanut, but in reality he just showed everyone how even such a small thing could be so important to farmers everywhere.