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Polymer / Global Problem Research

Started about 1 year ago by Lauren Leyva.


Hi all,
I made this resource/project starter for high school chemistry. I wanted to find a phenomenon that linked polymers (covalent bonding and intermoleular forces) to a global problem; I chose plastics and plastic in our oceans. I'd really like some feedback regarding NGSS lesson evaluation (especially tied to California environment)
Here was how I did it:
I made this handout, showed the TED video. Did discussion. Had students complete the history part through types of plastics for homework. They showed the Vice news clip (via 'plastics in our oceans' from HBO's VICE...I saw it last month and loved it). We had a discussion about solutions and talked about the CA plastic bag ban (mini socratic seminar style). Then they researched current solutions and needed support to evaluate how well it was working or came up with a new solution (in class and for homework). Feedback from students: The students said they enjoyed the content were interested in the topic.
In the future:
I'd like to make this a full research project and spend more time and go more in depth (I teach chemistry in an accelerated format so I did this more quickly than I'd like). I want to have a full plan for more in depth and add a day or two of teaching time in addition to research time for students.
Basically I'd want to make sure we are going deeper into the content than just the webquest format.
The reason why I posted this:
I'd like feedback on the idea/project and how to better incorporate more chemistry (polymers, covalent bonds, chemical properties, intermolecular forces) and how to make this more inquiry and how to provide better supports for students to help them go in depth and understand how the bonding and structural components of plastics make them difficult to degrade and the chemistry behind recycling them...then eventually help develop a 'better way' and other solutions..
I'd also especially like to have some comment on how well this follows the ideals of NGSS teaching and learning...
Thanks to all! Feel free to use and evaluate in vitro!

Our plastic world.docx

9 Comments

  • Jessica Levine

    Posted 4 months ago

    Hi Teachers of Chemistry.
    You all may be interested in a great curriculum called Polymers for the Planet (https://www.teachingchannel.org/polymers-engineering-unit-boeing). I was the teacher author, and am happy to answer any questions you have about the curriculum, adaptations, or formulations. This would be a great lab based and hands-on component to your great lesson ideas and hooks. Best of luck all!

  • Lauren Leyva

    Posted about 1 year ago

    Awesome! Thanks all!

  • Jeremy Wolf

    Posted about 1 year ago

    Lauren,
    I love this! I noticed that you have some resources from the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Did you look at the Conflicts in Chemistry Role Playing game? They designed (with the help of some awesome high school teachers) a role playing game where the students take on the role of lobbyists from various interest groups to try to convince the EPA to enact a plastics regulation. You can get tons of ideas about how to run this game, but in the end, I have found it works best as a debate for round 1 and a round table discussion for the intercession, then a final debate for round 2. It takes a while to do, but I have found that it can be one of the most rewarding things that my students learn in Chemistry II class.
    https://www.chemheritage.org/conflicts-in-chemistry-the-case-of-plastics
    Let me know if you want more information about this, because it is something I could talk about more...and more...

  • Amie Norton

    Posted about 1 year ago

    I remember doing something close to the second link.  It reminds students that DNA is a repeating chain

    http://www.eequalsmcq.com/saltinesnspit.pdf

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.wikihow.com/Extract-Your-DNA%3famp=1

  • Lauren Leyva

    Posted about 1 year ago

    Awesome! Thanks for the idea MARIELLE POULIN!

  • Marielle Poulin

    Posted about 1 year ago

    So great! A really like the real world application and problem with synthetic polymers. Our class made a natural polymer with milk and vinegar which could segway into the new research of my making more natural polymer that decompose in nature.

  • Matt Perekupka

    Posted about 1 year ago

    Great idea! Polymers are unfortunately omitted far too often in high school chemistry. That would be a great addition to the assignment.

  • Lauren Leyva

    Posted about 1 year ago

    Thanks for the suggestion!!! I appreciate you taking the time to look at it!!
    I also saw some hands on comparison activities of the different types of plastics (i.e. found in cars) and what they are used for (i.e. forces to withstand) b/c of their chemical properties....I was thinking of integrating that as well for more plastic/polymer/chemical properties

  • Matt Perekupka

    Posted about 1 year ago

    Lauren,
    This lesson integrates many aspects of NGSS teaching and learning. The activity requires students to a complex real world problem using the principles of chemistry which is the fundamental foundation of NGSS. The research aspect of the activity is great. It provides students with more than enough background information on the issue of plastics in the oceans. I would like to see a hands on component to the activity. An idea would be to require students to engineer a collection device for the plastic already present in the ocean from materials you can pick up from the dollar store. Obtain a fish tank or kids pool full of water and randomly disperse various plastic items in the water (Bottle caps, pieces of straws, etc) and challenge the students to collect the most items with their device. I feel the hands on activity would be a nice "hook" to an already very effective lesson. Great job! I hope this helps.