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A Brief History of Rubber

Grades: 5-8
Author: Brent Walters
Source: Original


Students will explore the development of rubber and its use in society. They will research the history of rubber and will construct a timeline to display key events and the progression of rubber's use in society.


What should students know as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will trace the development of rubber and its use in society

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will possess depth-of-knowledge on specific topics discovered during this project


  • Students will need computers with access to the Internet
  • Research worksheet
  • One poster board per group of students
  • Markers



The teacher will pre-assess student knowledge of the use of rubber in modern society. The teacher may accomplish this by having the students call out their suggestions as the teacher makes a list on the board at the front of the classroom. It may be helpful for the teacher to bring in common examples of rubber (tires, o-rings, gaskets, sports balls, rubber gloves, etc.). After the list has been compiled on the board, the teacher should ask students to imagine what life might have been like without such things. What sports might have been played without rubber balls? How would people have dealt with rainy weather (and the ensuing wet clothes) without raincoats?

Assessment: By guided questioning, the teacher leads students to consider how modern society not only uses rubber in a wide variety of ways, but is also shaped by rubber's prevalence in society.


For this project, students will present a timeline of their own construction and will elaborate on three chosen topics of interest discovered during the research stage. It is important that teacher explicitly details project expectations before students begin their research. In the exploration phase, students will work in pairs to fill in a worksheet that will guide them through the necessary research. They must also at this time pursue three topics of their own choice so as to obtain a deeper base of knowledge about these topics. Students may find it helpful to hypothesize about various scenarios and inquire further to discover the truth of the matter. Students are expected to ask questions of the chosen topic that will lead them to further their research.

After the necessary research has been completed and students have finished exploring the three topics of interest, student pairs must work together to create a timeline on a piece of poster board. Special attention must be given to proper timeline construction (chronological order, proper relative spacing of events and sufficient information per each entry are key areas of focus).

Assessment: Each student pair will turn in their research worksheet at the end of this project. Student worksheets must include sufficient data on the three highlighted topics to show evidence of deeper inquiry. However, during the exploration stage, teacher is merely observing student work and offering help and guidance as necessary.


Students will present their timelines to the class and identify possible relationships between events on their timelines. In addition to giving a general overview of their findings, they will highlight three particular points on their timeline and explain in detail why they found each of these points to be of particular interest. What was it that piqued their interest? What questions did they ask before furthering their research, and what answers were discovered as a result? Students must clearly demonstrate knowledge on these topics.

Teacher will ask questions to guide the students through their presentations as necessary, ensuring that each student is given the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge gained through this project. Further, the teacher will elaborate on student points as needed to give the class as a whole a greater understanding of the topic at hand.

Assessment: In the presentations, students will detail the chronology of the history of rubber and demonstrate a depth of knowledge on three key points. Students will also identify possible relationships between events on their timeline.


Teacher may show the animation film, "A Brief History of Rubber," found on the AGPA website. Additionally, students will further investigate online, outside of class, a specific individual or event discussed in class.

Assessment: Students will write a short background sketch of the individual or event researched. The requirements of this assessment should be modified for the specific goals of the teacher.



Best Teaching Practices

  • Inquiry Approaches
  • Communication Skills

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

  • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities can use science ideas to protect the Earth's Resources and Environment.
  • MS-PS1-3 Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.

Common Core Standards:

  • RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

National Standards:

  • II: Time, Continuity and Change Grades 5-8
  • VIII: Science, Technology and Society Grades 5-8

Ohio Standards:

  • Social Studies, Grade 5 Indicator: Create timelines and identify possible relationships between events.

Content Knowledge

Teachers should familiarize themselves with the research worksheet. Timelines and other appropriate information can be found on (but should not be limited to) the following websites:






Ongoing throughout the learning cycle.

Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: Two per group.

Pacing/Suggested Time: Research will take some students a full class period, if not longer. Two class periods may be needed for research and timeline construction. Allow for another class period for presentations and any ensuing discussion.

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