LA STEM Stories

LA STEM Stories provides contexts and curricula for exploring topics and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with integrated support from language arts. Each story is based on a true account of a STEM explorer or team as they approached a problem or challenge in their community. LA STEM Stories engage the learner with a reading or telling of an actual event and then continue with a set of explorations that invite the student to join the STEM team in learning more about the event, including engaging in finding solutions to real problems. Explorations recommended in LA STEM Stories are based on national standards for each STEM discipline and meet language arts standards, as well. The materials used are those that can be acquired from common retail outlets in most any community.  












Earth/Environmental Science Focus

Carrie Everson
Geology, Minerals, Mining

Atmosphere, chemistry, technology
Ecology, Chemistry, engineering design.

Biological Science Focus

Entomology, Modeling, Animatronics, Population/Scale.

Human Biology, Prosthetics, Simple Machines

Chemistry/Physical Science Focus

Stephanie Kwolek
Chemistry, polymers, measurement, engineering criteria

Chemical processes, laboratory technology, metric measurement

Simple machines, light, engineering, geometry

Engineering/Technology Focus
Electronics, resistance, conductor

Electromagnetism, technology, engineering design

Electricity, magnetism, graphing, technology

Life in 3D
             Mechanics, motors, electronics, coding
Junkbox engineering


Carrie Everson, a 19th century woman, finds herself in charge of a "worthless" gold mine. She has an education in chemistry. How can she apply her knowledge to find more gold in the mine tailings and save her family from financial ruin?  

Giant Insect Invasion!

Have you ever seen a monster movie where giant insects wreck havoc?  Build models of insects, use technology to create insect bots, analyze insect speed/scale.  

The Man Who Destroyed the Atmosphere

In his era, Thomas Midgely was a genius of chemistry. He invented an additive for gasoline that changed the course of the air war over Great Britain. He created a new gas that would improve the safety and efficiency of refrigeration. It seemed that what he did was a good thing--at the time. It wasn't until sometime later that the evidences were clear. Thomas Midgely's inventions were destroying the atmosphere.

James Hanger: First Casualty of the Civil War

Two days after he enlisted, 18-year old Jame Hanger's leg was shattered by a cannon blast. Captured by the Union army, young Hanger spent time as a prisoner of war before being returned to his home in Virginia. His family thought him despondent as he spent the next months in solitude.  Instead, Hanger was designing a new prosthetic leg--an interest and drive that would start a business that would supply prosthetic limbs around the globe. 

Stephanie Kwolek: Bullet proof Chemist 

Before women had many opportunities in the scientific community, Stephanie Kwolek broke barriers by creating composite polymers. How could she mix a plastic with substances to form a composite material able to withstand a bullet?

When Carver graduated from college, one of the first African American men to do so, he was given a job at a newly formed college. He had no equipment, no tools, nothing to teach with. How would he begin his job with nothing and teach young people to be scientists? 

Many communities in the world suffer from contaminated water supplies. To have any water at all, people spend a great deal of time carrying it from great distances. Using some chemistry knowledge, filters can be made and tested. Good filters help people avoid disease by providing clean drinking water. 

Exploring an electronic circuit, Greatbach used the wrong component and discovered an application for a pacemaker.  In this unit learn how to build a simple electronic circuit, make liquid resistors, and circuit boards. 

Only 16 years after the Civil War, and less than four months in office, James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States was shot by a disgruntled office seeker. For weeks the president weakened and slowly faded away as doctors searched for the bullet. Alexander Graham Bell made a heroic effort to find the bullet by designing a metal detector. 

Archimedes: The Romans are Coming! 

Greece had been invaded by Romans and the Greeks turned to Archimedes, the smartest person in the land, for help. How would he keep the Roman ships from reaching the shore of the harbor using materials found in 320 BC?

Thomas & Emily Davenport: The Electromagnet

In the early days of electricity no one understood the potential of electromagnetism as Davenport did.  How could he demonstrate his ideas to others? What would he use to make his first electromagnet?

Emma has a rare disability that makes her arms are so weak that she cannot lift them. Until 3D printing, only adults could be fitted with a heavy metal apparatus to assist the muscles.  Emma can now use her arms supported by customized plastic supports.  In this high tech unit, students explore the mechanics, electronics, and software associated with printing/sculpting/etching devices.