After watching the program Forensic Detectives: Chemistry at Work , ask students how they would define chemistry. Help them create a simple definition, such as these: Chemistry is the structure and properties of substances and how they react to one another. Chemistry is about what substances are made of and how they combine.
Next, ask students to describe careers that involve chemistry based on what they viewed. Ask students what these careers have in common. (They all deal with substances, their properties, and how they react with each other.)
Tell students that chemistry is involved in many careers because chemicals are the basis for many of the products we use every day, from drugs to synthetic fibers to perfume. Almost all new products, from NASA spaceflight materials to new bubble-gum flavors, depend on chemistry. Examples follow:
Share the following list of chemistry-related careers with the class:
Have students research a chemistry-related job. They may choose one listed above or another from their own research. Have them answer the following questions:
Share the following Web sites with the class. Give students at least one full class period to read about careers and select one to explore.
Chemical Careers (list of careers, background, quotes, general information)
A Day in the Life: Chemist
A Day in the Life: Chemical Engineer
What do Chemical Engineers Do? (click "Job Descriptions")
Chemists and Materials Sciences
Chemical and Engineering News: Career & Employment News (from flavor and fragrance chemists to those who discover and develop drugs)
Adventures of Meg A. Mole, Future Scientist (Featured chemists make household products and NASA insulation)
Science Knows No Boundaries (see Chemist and Food Scientist)
Going Places with Chemistry (biographies of female scientists)
BLS Career Information: Jobs for People Who like Science (Chemist, Pharmacist)
Career Zone: Chemists (click "Similar Jobs" for more)
Give students a full class period to complete their research. As homework, have them create a poster entitled "If I were a...." about the profession they chose. The poster should include answers to the general questions above.
Over the next few days, have students present their posters to the class. In their presentations, they should share answers to the personal questions above. After the presentations, ask students to discuss the jobs, particularly something that most suprised them about these careers?
Definition: one who applies science to the design and development of buildings, machines, and other products
Context: Chemical engineers use chemistry to solve problems and create new products.
Definition: the study of evidence discovered at a crime scene and used in a court of law
Context: Forensic science encompasses fingerprint and handwriting analysis, as well as close scrutiny of fibers, hair, and other evidence found at the scene of a crime.
Definition: the study of the characteristics and uses of the various materials, such as metals, ceramics, and plastics that are employed in science and technology
Context: Those who work in materials science work to develop new materials with unusual properties, such as a plastic that can conduct electricity.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards: