Chemistry Collision
NWECHS Students use Chemistry to Identify Cause of Plane Crash
Posted on 02/02/2023
This is the image for the news article titled NWECHS Students use Chemistry to Identify Cause of Plane CrashNorthwest Early College students arrived at their classroom Thursday morning to find they had just entered a make-believe active airplane crash scene right in the middle of their school.

The answer to how it happened and why would depend on their deep knowledge and skills of the chemistry lessons they have been learning all school year.

Chemistry teacher Camila Zeh converted her classroom into a mock crash scene, complete with eight unidentified casualties and debris. The purpose of the activity is to fully immerse her Pre-AP chemistry students in the field of forensic chemistry and allow them to play junior detectives by using their knowledge to find out how the crash occurred.

“This lesson allows our students to analyze the scene and see the role chemistry plays along with forensics to identify substances and compounds to figure out how the crash occurred,” said student teacher Ruby Ryan. “The students are having fun while applying what they have learned about chemistry and critical thinking.”

Chemistry is a critical aspect to analyzing a crash site.

Forensic chemists typically comb through debris at the accident site to identify physical or chemical properties that could have played a role in the incident.

Needless to say, everyone at Northwest was safe and sound and no airplane actually touched down on the campus. The innovative and hands-on lesson, however, allowed students to tap into their knowledge and consider careers in STEM.