A man in Alabama had gone out for a walk. Suddenly, his foot slipped over the mud on the road. His clothes were splashed with mud. He took out his handkerchief and began to clean his clothes. He wiped off all the mud. But he saw that there were stains on his clothes, and what’s more. the stains were blue! The too, handkerchief, had turned blue. He washed the handkerchief. But the blue stains were still there. They could not be washed off.
This man was no ordinary man. He was George Washington Carver, the famous scientist. A true scientist wants to study everything – even mud stains! Carver rushed to his lab and tested the mud stains and the soil. After many tests, he learnt how to make good quality blue paint from the soil. A church in that town needed paint. Carver’s students painted the church
with this lovely blue paint. No one could believe that the paint was made from the soil under their feet!
George Washington Carver was born in 1861. His parents were slaves. His family worked on a farm in America. He lost both his parents when he was still a baby.
Carver loved plants even as a child. He cared for them. He understood what the plants wanted, what was wrong with them. Soon, people around the farm began to call the young boy ‘plant doctor’.
Young Carver wanted to go to school and then college. But he was a Black boy. Many schools and colleges in those days did not take Black students. Carver did not lose heart. He went from place to place. He found a college where he could study. He studied hard and became a scientist.
After a few months, Carver went to teach at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This Institute was for Black students. Carver worked there all his life.
On the first day, Carver told his students, “Let us start a new project today. We will all go out and collect cans, bottles, boxes, pots and pans which people have thrown away. From these, we will make simple instruments and set up our laboratory.”
And soon, Carver set up his laboratory. In this laboratory, he found new uses for these ‘useless’ things. He showed his students that one does not have to spend a lot of money to do great things.
Carver wanted to help the poor farmers who had small farms in Alabama He showed them how to get good crops. These farmers grew plants like cotton because there was profit in it. But cotton made the soil poor. Carver told them to grow crops like peanuts and beans. These crops made the soil rich again. The farmers got very good crops. In fact, the crops were so good that the farmers did not know what to do with so much of them!
Again, Carver went to work. He began to look for new uses for these plants. Can you imagine how many uses he found? From peanuts, he made sugur, ink, boot-polish, colours, soup, paper, tiles, butter, plastic, milk, … as many as 300 things! From sweet potato, he made as many as 118 things. Soon, these crops were in great demand and the farmers were happy.
This great scientist died in 1943. The place where he worked is now turned into a ‘museum’.