Marc Pedersen, science teacher at Des Moines Christian School, partnered with Kemin Industries for the 2022 STEM Teacher Externship Program. During his six-week experience, he extracted molecules from plants and analyzed the data. Through this process he became more familiar with essential oils and learned they are not just a specific chemical, but a myriad of organic chemicals that create the fragrance. Back in his classroom, Pedersen plans to incorporate some of his recent experience into lessons.
“At Des Moines Christian, we have opportunities for the learner to engage in real work that meets a real need for real people,” he said. “My plan is for our students to generate essential oils and then make the soap. Students will get to keep some of the soap, but we hope to donate the rest of the soap to a homeless organization or other outreach program in the metro area.”
Pedersen hopes to make a connection from his workplace experience and chemistry lessons in the classroom to everyday uses and a larger community impact.
“This externship has given me opportunities to work on my chemistry lab skills. I really hope this topic on essential oils, molecules and smells will open up a life-long journey into enjoying the wonderful creation that is around the students,” said Pedersen. “I am able to make my teaching better by seeing how industry does things, what skills and abilities people need to possess to work, and how really cool God’s world is and my students can get to know that!”
For more information about the STEM Teacher Externships Program, visit www.iowastem.org/externships.