In this activity, students will answer questions while watching a video from the Spellbound series produced by ACS. Each episode focuses on a different notable scientist, recounting how their interest in science was sparked in their childhood and how they went on to make great contributions to the scientific community. This eighth episode focuses on the childhood of Helen Murray Free, a former ACS president and pioneering woman in chemistry who developed self-testing diagnostic strips for diabetes and other diseases.
Middle School, High School
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- Explain how childhood experiences can contribute to an individual’s scientific development.
- Reflect on their own interests and role models.
This lesson supports students’ understanding of:
- History of chemistry
Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 10-20 minutes
- Spellbound Episode 8 Video
- Student Handout
- Computer and projector with volume
- No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.
- The Spellbound series of videos is about the childhood experiences that inspired important scientists to become scientists. They can help students understand that anyone at any age, anywhere in the world can be inspired by science. These videos would be appropriate at any point in the year and, as they are publically available, could easily be used as part of an emergency sub plan.
- The running time of this video is about five minutes. As it is a short video and it moves pretty quickly, you may want to show it twice to ensure students can complete all the questions.
- The student questions/answers are presented in sequential order in the video.
- An answer key has also been provided for teacher reference.
- The last four questions ask for students to reflect on the content of the video as it applies to their life. It could be interesting to have students share answers with a partner or with the class after they have had a few minutes to answer those questions.
For the Student
While watching the video, answer the following questions:
- What subjects did Helen Free want to teach when she was older?
- In high school, what sort of student was Helen?
- Who encouraged Helen to switch majors from English/Latin education to chemistry?
- What was Helen’s first job out of college, and what did she want to do instead?
- What did Helen and her husband help to develop in their laboratory? Why is this important?
- How did the ACS recognize this accomplishment?
- What award did President Obama give to Helen in 2010?
- What advice does Helen have for young people interested in science?
After you watch the video, reflect on the following questions:
- If you could create something that would medically help people, what would you invent and why?
- If you were President of the United States, to whom would you give the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and why?
- It took World War II to open up university science classes to women. Today, who needs more access to science classes, and how would you do this?
- If you had the opportunity to ask Helen one question (about anything – her work, her life, etc.), what would it be?