The Chemistry of Hair and Why Representation Matters

Krystal Cartus, Science, Wilson STEM Academy

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


In 8th grade science we explore chemistry. As we dive deeper into matter and the way elements are arranged, this curriculum unit will fit in perfectly. Students learn that all of the elements on the periodic table are what make up everything in our universe. This can sometimes be difficult for students to grasp until you provide concrete examples. For this particular unit we will take a scientific approach to history. We will explore the things that people use to use in their hair from oils and other natural materials. Students will examine what elements make up the natural and synthetic products in the hair care industry. Also we will discuss what goes into developing new products. Who develops these products? What is the science behind development and who gets to be involved in the process? It is important for students to understand that underrepresentation in the sciences has been a long standing issue. We will take examples from the hair care industry but also from the medical field. This will relate to our
students as they are starting to think about careers.