In my search to make chemistry real and relevant I was looking for good stories about condensation polymers, in particular polyamides. My search lead me to the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Women in Chemistry series.
The video that was a perfect fit for the learning outcomes was on Stephanie Kwolek the discover of Kevlar. Kwolek considered medicine, teaching and fashion among other professions. However is wasn’t until she took on a job as a research chemist at DuPont that she discovered work that would give her autonomy, fulfill her need to be creative and inventive, and enable her to make a living out of something she was passionate about.
This video spoke to my students on many levels, particularly the fulfillment that comes from having a job that enables you to do what you love.
Her story also makes a strong connection to the nature of science in particular the charge of scientists to develop technology and materials to address societal needs and solve everyday problems. Kevlar after all was born out of a need to reduce fuel consumption.