A Century of Plastics

After reading about polymer materials, engineer trainees examine how plastics have been integrated into everyday products. In groups, they compile a list of products made entirely without plastics and then, as a closing activity, try to plan a redesign of a plastic product using fifty percent less of the material. The reading can be done in support of Common Core standards for literacy in science.

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Designed

  • Organized and detail-oriented teacher's notes
  • Instructional handout provides reading material and guides groups through their discussion and designing activity
  • Ideal as for a STEM or physical science class that is learning about polymers
  • Can be used to meet Next Generation Science Standards

  • Focuses on the benefits of using manmade polymers; consider holding a class discussion about their resistance to biodegrade
  • Lesson is discussion based; it would be more memorable if groups could actually construct the reduced-plastic object that they design