Teacher Experience: “Chemical Engineer: Carbon Fiber” Task for 11th Grade Chemistry Students
A Defined STEM Learning Experience From:
11 th -Grade Chemistry Teacher
La Planta High School (MD)
Chemical Engineer: Carbon Fiber
Here’s What We Did:
For this task, students were asked to create their own carbon fiber company and convince product manufacturers to buy their product. Working in small groups, they created a name, logo, and slogan for their company. I made this into a competition: Whichever group created the best product won a contract with the manufacturer.
The students watched the Defined STEM videos on carbon fiber and its use in the automobile industry. In groups, students created a comparison chart of carbon fiber and three other common metals used in the production of motor vehicles. Simultaneously, the students were given copies of three of the provided readings. Individually, the students wrote a short argumentative essay arguing for or against the use of carbon fiber. In their groups, students then worked to complete one of the products, which included a diagram or chart, an oral presentation, an advertisement, a persuasive research report, or a virtual demonstration to present to the class.
The students were given three days of class time to create and prepare the project. Overall, the students were given 10 class periods to complete the entire project including presentations.
Why Defined STEM Was the Perfect Fit:
Defined STEM brings inquiry-based projects into our classrooms, which is something many teachers in our school are working towards. While it is sometimes challenging to get the needed technology to complete multi-faceted projects such as this one, Defined STEM prompts and rubrics can be printed and still accessible to all students. With Defined STEM, I’m offered the freedom to adjust the lessons to fit my classroom and assign specific checkpoints to help keep students on task throughout the project. The final presentations gave students a chance to use their creativity to create a company and a project of their choice, while creating an open environment where students can become the teacher and learn from each other.