D211 Post: Chemistry Project Expands Beyond the Lab

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Hoffman Estates High School sophomore Franny Davis discusses the testing process during the polymer lab presentation.

            Chemistry students at Hoffman Estates High School recently participated in a lab which had them building experience in the marketing, public speaking, and presentation building as well as scientific process.

            At the start of the class’s polymer lab, students are presented with two types of polymers.  From there the groups are allowed to experiment by altering one variable the groups are tasked with designing a potential consumer product of their own design.  They must be able to reproduce it while working on a budget. 

            Following the scientific work, the students must develop a presentation for potential investors.  The presentation must include overviews of their research, development budget, and commercial advertising. 

            “I love so many things about this lab,” said Hoffman Estates High School Chemistry Teacher Tanya Katovich.  “First, students plan their own experiments, which truly helps develop their scientific skills.  They put many science concepts that we’ve learned into action.  Second, the lab involves skills needed in the workforce.  They need to stay within their budget, which is a skill taught by our business teachers.  They need to present professionally in front of their peers, which is a skill taught by our English teachers.”

Hoffman Estates High School sophomore Charlie Walsh discusses his product during the presentation portion of his polymer lab.

            At the end of the two weeks, the students present their products in front of fellow students and teachers who evaluate both the product and presentation. 

            One product was a soft rubber ball which could be thrown among each other.  The team who created it included sophomore Charlie Walsh, who said his favorite part was building the advertisement.

            “It was a fun process putting our ideas together,” he said.  “Working with my teammates Paige and Lucca was great.  Everyone worked hard, and we worked very well together.”

            He added that doing a project that spanned multiple coursework was very helpful.

            “I think it helps learning how to speak with other people,” he said.  “It’s one thing to gather the information and put it together.  It’s another thing to present it so that people remain interested.”

Dr. Kerri Largo, Hoffman Estates HIgh School Business Education department chair, discusses her observations from a student’s chemistry polymer business presentation.

            Dr. Kerri Largo, Hoffman Estates High School Business Department Chair, was one of the teachers who evaluated the presentations.  She said the inclusion of the overall presentations can have lasting effects on the students.

            “I think this project is fantastic,” she said.  “The students are seeing the business sides of a chemistry project such as cost analysis, marketing, and customer needs.  It’s great that they can see these practical applications.  Some of these students may be future entrepreneurs.  They can take this experience and use it to help them build their own business.”