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FAMOUSSCIENTISTS.ORG/REPRODUCTION



Lived 1923-2014

Stephanie Kwolek was an organic chemist, best known for inventing Kevlar in 1965. Kevlar is an immensely strong plastic, which was first used as a replacement for steel reinforcing strips in racing car tires and has gone on to be used in a large number of applications where high strength is required without high weight.


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Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born in 1923 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Her father died when she was only 10 years old, but he passed on his interest in science, particularly natural science, to his daughter.

Aged 23, Kwolek graduated with a degree in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University. She was quickly recruited to work as a chemist […] in Buffalo, NY. Four years later, she moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where she spent the remainder of her career […].

After nine years of research work, Kwolek made her major breakthrough, discovering Kevlar. Her pathway to discovery began a year earlier, when she began looking for a new, lightweight plastic to be used in car tires. The idea was that lighter tires would allow vehicles to enjoy better fuel economy.

Not only did Kevlar find use in tires, its combination of lightness and strength has seen it used in a large variety of protective clothing applications, such as bulletproof vests, which have saved the lives of countless police officers and other people.

Speaking about her discovery, Stephanie Kwolek [said], “I don’t think there’s anything like saving someone’s life to bring you satisfaction and happiness.”

Stephanie Kwolek died on June 18, 2014, at the age of 90.

Awards


Stephanie Louise Kwolek was awarded the National Medal of Technology; the Perkin Medal, which is seen as the highest award in American industrial chemistry; the Chemical Pioneer Award of the American Institute of Chemists; and the Howard N. Potts Medal for Engineering. In 1994, she was admitted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. […]

Available at . Accessed on January 21, 2016. Occasional linguistic adjustments to fit standard language marked with [ ]. Suppressions for pedagogical purposes (omission of excerpts with inadequate language level or advertising) marked with […].

7 Find in the texts from activities 4 and 6 examples of sentences about these topics. Write the answers in your notebook. Respostas possíveis.

a birth date



Hawking – “Born on 8 January 1942 to a biologist father […].”; Kwolek – “Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born in 1923 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.”

b education



Hawking – “[…] he acquired a degree in physics from the University College, Oxford.”; Kwolek – “Kwolek graduated with a degree in chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University.”

c job


Hawking – “Stephen Hawking is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist […].”; Kwolek – “Stephanie Kwolek was an organic chemist […].”

d family background



Hawking – “Born on 8 January 1942 to a biologist father, Hawking had two younger sisters.”; Kwolek – “Her father died when she was only 10 years old […].”

e current family



Hawking – “Stephen Hawking got married to Jane Wilde, a language student, in 1965, and together they have three children and one grandchild. The couple got separated in 1991.”; Kwolek – no information is provided.

f achievements and recognition



Hawking – “Hawking is known for furthering Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum theory.” / “[He] is widely considered to be one of the greatest scientists alive today.”; Kwolek – “[…] best known for inventing Kevlar in 1965.” / “In 1994, she was admitted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.”

8 Read extracts a-i from Hawking’s and Kwolek’s biographies. Then, in your notebook, match them to the verb tenses I-IV.

a “It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide to date.” IV

b “I don’t think there’s anything like saving someone’s life to bring you satisfaction and happiness.” II

c “He has about twelve honorary degrees.” II

d “[…] he became a Companion of Honor in 1989.” III

e “Stephen Hawking is an English theoretical physicist […].” I

f “He is currently the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology […].” I

g “Aged 23, Kwolek graduated with a degree in chemistry […].” III

h “As of 2009, Hawking has been almost completely paralyzed.” IV

I “Stephanie Kwolek died on June 18, 2014 […].” III
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I present simple of the verb to be to express attributes of a person or thing that are true for the present

II present simple to express events that are true for the present

III past simple to express events completed in the past

IV present perfect (past in present) to express events that started in the past but continue up to the present

9 Which verb tenses were used more frequently in the biographies? Why?



In Hawking’s biography, who was alive when the text was written, the present simple and the past simple are used with equal frequency. In Kwolek’s biography, the verbs in the past simple predominate because she was already dead when the text was written.

Writing

10 Think of a Brazilian scientist (dead or alive) whose work has been relevant for Brazil and/or for the rest of the world. Research about his/her life and write a biography of him/her in your notebook. You can use activity 7 to help you plan your writing and the texts presented in this section as examples.



After writing

11 Share your text with your classmates and read theirs. Provide feedback and listen to what they have to say about your work. Also, ask for your teacher’s feedback.

12 Think about your text. Would you change anything after reading your classmates’ biography? Consider their feedback as well as your teacher’s feedback and rewrite your text.

13 Did you already know the scientists your classmates wrote about? What did you learn from their texts? Respostas pessoais.





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