Careers in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Design: Video Series for Secondary Classrooms

This project is a collaboration with North Central Educational Service District 171 and Washington State Department of Ecology. It is supported by funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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Project Overview

The Careers in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Design video series highlight professionals in Washington whose careers impact products or chemicals used in Washington. Each of these videos highlight a career that connects to green chemistry and sustainable design. In each video, the professionals share their reflections in response to a series of interview questions. The videos are five to ten minutes long. They are designed to be used with secondary students.

Using the Resources

Below you will find each video, along with discussion questions and quick links to other resources. We’ve also created an Activity Guide that includes additional resources.

Discussion and Reflection Prompts

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions: 

  • What new learning do you have after hearing from the scientists?
  • What are you wondering about or want to know more about after watching the videos? 
  • What strengths and knowledge do you have? How could you use these strengths and knowledge throughout your career journey? 
  • What advice from these scientists resonated most for you? Why? 
  • What new ideas do you have about your own career possibilities after watching these videos? 

For some of these prompts, you may want to facilitate a class discussion and record students’ ideas prior to watching the videos. Then, after viewing one or more videos, you can invite students to share their newly emerging or updated insights. Students can document their thinking about these prompts in a variety of ways.  You can consider posting students’ reflections on a gallery wall and inviting them to notice similarities, differences, and themes. 

Except where otherwise noted, this work by Saskia van Bergen (Washington Department of Ecology) and Carissa Haug (NCESD) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. View license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Activity Guide

In this activity guide, we offer some ideas for how you may use these videos with your students. These suggestions are just a starting point, and you should feel free to utilize the resources in ways that feel most relevant, useful, and generative for your students.

The activity guide includes the following contents:

  • Discussion and Reflection Prompts
  • Graphic Organizer
  • Career Research Activity
  • Additional Resources

Education and Outreach Manager

Amanda Close, Education and Outreach Manager, Waste Loop

Meet Amanda Close, Education and Outreach Manager at Waste Loop, a non-profit organization based in Leavenworth, WA. Learn how Amanda has spent her career working in experiential education and the non-profit sector to educate the community about how to be more sustainable.

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What does it mean for something to be designed for obsolescence?
    Visual depiction of replacement vs. repair
    Are there states in the US that already have policy that promote a circular economy? Does Washington have a policy?
    Why might you consider purchasing at thrift stores as related to the 6 R’s of sustainability?
    How does this career and concept connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

  • How can an individual, like you, influence developing state governmental policies that promote a circular economy?

QA/QC Upscaling Technician

Chase Neilson, QA/QC Upscaling Technician, Tidal Vision

Meet Chase Neilson, a QA/QC Upscaling Technician at Tidal Vision, in Bellingham, WA. Learn how Chase has grown as a scientist at Tidal Vision, his career pathway, and why he loves lab work.

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What can quality control include?
  • What can chitosan be used for?
  • What is upcycling and why are crab shells viewed as a good raw material?
  • What is upscaling?
  • What does R&D stand for?
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)
  • Can chitosan connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6? If so, how? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

Associate Professor

Dr. Hang Liu – Associate Professor in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, Washington State University

Meet Dr. Hang Liu, an associate professor in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. Learn how Dr. Liu’s research is revolutionizing textile waste recycling and what inspired her to have a career in green chemistry and sustainable design!

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What are the three responsibilities Dr.Hang mentions as her responsibility as a faculty researcher?
  • What is the impact of Hang’s research?
  • Why is it important to think about the environmental burdens when you are designing a product?
  • Why can’t you recycle cotton textiles with heat? Is there an alternate recycling method?
  • What is cotton made of?
  • What is wet spinning?
  • What is a major component of agricultural biomass?
  • What are some of the reasons for using waste cotton as a raw material?
  • What is the difference between biobased and biodegradable?
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

Why focus on the circular economy for textiles? (Resource: How can we make textile and garment production more sustainable)

Analytical Chemist

Jem Talusig, Analytical Chemist, Tidal Vision

Meet Jem Talusig, an Analytical Chemist at Tidal Vision, in Bellingham, WA. Learn how Jem preserved through her education to be a chemist and how her work in the lab supports sustainable practices.

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What are some of the tasks of an analytical chemist at Tidal Vision?
  • What is chitosan? What is it derived from?
  • What makes chitin a good material to explore for use in manufacturing and other industrial processes?
  • Why did Jem keep pursuing chemistry after experiencing some failures?
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

Global Lead, Sustainable Materials Innovation

Jennifer Reece, Global Lead of Sustainable Materials Innovation, HP Inc.

Meet Jennifer Reece, the Global Lead of Sustainable Materials Innovation at HP, Inc. Learn about Jennifer’s job, her journey to a career in sustainability, and more!

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What is the circular economy?
  • Why does scaling a technology decrease the cost?
  • What are some of the life cycle phases of a material and what are some of the impacts measured?
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

Chemist

Dr. Justin Rewerts, Chemist, Washington State Department of Ecology – Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program

Meet Dr. Justin Rewerts PhD, a Chemist in the Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program at the Washington State Department of Ecology. Learn about what Justin’s job looks like, why he chose to go onto post secondary education, and more!

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What kinds of work does a chemist working at Ecology on consumer products do?
  • Why is it important to work in a team?
  • What is PFAS? Why is it used?
  • What is a “regrettable substitution”?
  • Does a person have to know all there is to know about a field in order to start a career in it?
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

Chemist

Sean Zigah, Chemist, Washington State Department of Ecology – Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program

Meet Sean Zigah, a Chemist in the Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program at the Washington State Department of Ecology. Learn about Sean’s job, how he improved his communication skills in order to become a better scientist, and more.

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • What kinds of work does a chemist working at Ecology on consumer products do?
  • Why do you think collaboration is important?
  • What is a Standard Operating Procedure?  Why is it important?
  • How can the experience in a laboratory help with chemistry jobs not in the lab?
  • If someone struggles with something, can they improve? Provide an example.
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Question:

Regulatory Compliance Director

Taylor Nations, Regulatory Compliance Director, ECOS

Meet Taylor Nations, the Regulatory Compliance Director for ECOS, in Lacey, WA. Learn how Taylor was introduced to green chemistry and sustainable design, innovations she is involved with at ECOS, and the importance of regulations for consumer products.

Consider asking students to reflect on and/or discuss these questions:

  • Why is it important for government and industry agencies to push for product regulation?
  • How do companies create innovative products?
  • What is sustainable design?
  • What is the potential impact of putting ingredients in a product that do not serve a purpose for the effectiveness of that product, like dyes?
  • What does it mean for something to be LEED certified?
  • What does zero platinum waste certified mean?
  • Provide examples of what ECOS assesses besides waste generation? Why is this important?
  • What did Taylor mean when she said, “Price can be a barrier to “green”?”
  • What is the Safer Choice program?
  • Why is it ok to fail sometimes?
  • What are pathways to working in green chemistry?
  • How does this career connect to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12? (Resource: Sustainable Development Goals)

Extension Questions:

  • What role does the state legislature have on laws?
  • What kind of personal care products use preservatives? Why?
  • What does the Safer Choice certification mean? (Resource: EPA Safer Choice –  ECOS has a number of certified products)

Questions?

Please email Carissa Haug at the NCESD