On May 8th, 2019, 7 employees from Toray Composite Materials America in Tacoma taught three science classes to groups of 7th graders at Elk Plain School of Choice. The employees came from various sectors in the business, and were excited to inspire the next generation to take an interest in the STEM field, in the environment, and in Toray as a company.
The classes focused on environmental issues and how Toray helps. The first problem we spoke about is water shortage. Even though the Earth is approximately 70% water, only a small percentage of this is actually drinkable. There are currently around 800 million people without safe drinking water in the world today, so what’s the solution? Toray’s advanced material solution is a hollow fiber membrane, which essentially filters out impurities. In the class, we took small scale demonstration models, and allowed the students to perform filtration experiments using the membranes and orange juice. With these, we can filter the water from the orange juice. After the experiment, we showed the students what the membranes looked like up close, and how they are used in mass water filtration systems.
Next, we moved on to global warming, and this time we look at carbon fiber. We explain what global warming is, and how carbon fiber can help combat it. Specifically, we talked about Prepreg, which is the type of carbon fiber product made at Tacoma plant. We explained what Prepreg is, how it is made, show a video on its strength compared to plastic, and compare it to iron. Carbon fiber is lighter, durable, solid, and never rusts, making it a desirable product for many applications, including aerospace. Boeing, one of our largest customers, kindly allowed us the use of a “making of” video from their factory, showing one of their aircraft being built with Toray’s carbon fiber products. We explained that because carbon fiber is lighter, it means the overall aircraft is lighter, uses less fuel, which produces a smaller carbon footprint, and therefore less of an environmental impact.
Also in the presentation we talked about Toray, its origin, locations around the world, products we make, and gave the students more information on Tacoma plant. Many students were interested in learning more about our carbon fiber products and their application in aerospace.
The classes were very successful. Employees worked hard to keep the presentation interesting and engaging, on getting things set up and cleaned down between classes, and in helping the students with the experiments and questions.
The students had a great time. They were enthusiastic about the experiments, enjoyed the videos, and asked a lot of thoughtful questions. We look forward to planning another round of science classes with the school, and hope to have the same employees to help out.