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Stephanie Kwolek on the left.

The Life and Achievements of Chemist Stephanie Kwolek, Inventor of Kevlar

March 25, 2024

The Life and Achievements of Chemist Stephanie Kwolek, Inventor of Kevlar

Ask students: When did Stephanie Kwolek make the discovery of the fiber that became Kevlar? What path did she take to becoming a chemist?

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Kevlar is a fiber that’s stronger than steel, and it’s revolutionized everything from military and police body armor to sports equipment. For our “Hidden Histories” series this Women’s History Month, we learn about Stephanie Kwolek, the pioneering researcher who invented Kevlar in 1965.

View the transcript of the story.

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Discussion Questions

  1. Who employed Stephanie Kwolek?
  2. When did Kwolek make the discovery of the fiber that became Kevlar?
  3. What path did Kwolek take to becoming a chemist?
  4. How did Stephanie Kwolek become part of a race to create new synthetic fibers?
  5. Why did Kwolek succeed in discovering Kevlar?

Focus Questions

What challenges did Stephanie Kwolek face during her research? Do you think women in scientific fields face similar challenges today?

Media literacy: How can news outlets better highlight key figures like Stephanie Kwolek?

Extension Activity

Watch the Student Reporting Labs video and answer the following question: Why is it good to be innovative?

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Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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