Meet Native American Physicist, Fred Begay

Fred Begay was the first Native American physicist.

Fred Begay was born on the Ute Mountain Indian reservation in 1932. He was raised in the traditional Navajo ways. He learned their religion and how to hunt and farm.

Begay was a clever child. He asked questions about the natural world. He was very interested in how rainbows are made. He was named Clever Fox because of his clever ideas.

When Begay was 10, he was sent to a boarding school. There, he learned English. They trained him to be a farmer. After finishing school, he served in the military and fought in the Korean War.

Begay went on to go to college. He remained curious about the natural world. He continued to ask questions about light and pursued an advanced degree. In 1971, he became the first Native American to receive a PhD in physics [the study of matter, energy, and forces].

Begay was a very respected physicist. He worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he continued to study light and energy. He also did work for NASA. He helped the Navajo and other Native American communities through his work.

What Do You Think?   What is something that interests you about light? What could you study to pursue your interests?

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