Plants to Plastics: Additional Educator Resources

Use these resources to support your teaching of the unit: Plants to Plastics: Engineering Bioplastics

Videos

 

Amoeba Sisters Biomolecules Video

This Amoeba Sisters video offers a fun and accessible explanation of biomolecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids). Youth wanting a deeper explanation of naturally occurring polymers can learn about the everyday building blocks of life in this video. (8:12) See page 23.

Two Young Scientists Break Down Plastics with Bacteria

If youth would like to see examples of their peers engineering, have them watch this TED Talk featuring two 12th graders who went in search of plastic-digesting bacteria in their hometown. In this video, Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao explain how their research led them to discover several types of bacteria that hadn’t previously been known to digest plastic. (9:20) See page 27.

Ecovative Design Mushroom Materials

Could mushrooms replace plastic packaging? One company has started harnessing the power of chitin, a natural polymer found in mushroom cell walls. In this video, the founder of Ecovative Design explains the process of cultivating mushroom mycelia to use as a manufacturing material. (2:08)

Making Polymers

This video introduces monomers and polymers, and models how different additives affect the properties of polymers. (1:05) See page 17.

Plastic Bottle Fish, Extreme Plastic Recycling Ideas

This video explores an artist's project to repurpose plastic waste into towering public sculptures in an effort to draw attention to the extreme amount of plastic polluting the environment. (1:53) See page 51.

Educator Resources

 

The Kids’ Macrogalleria

This legacy website of the Polymer Science Learning Center was created by a polymer scientist back in 2003 as a way to educate the public about polymer science and its applications. It remains up and running today, and it is filled with stories, articles, illustrations, and interactive webpages for youth to explore. See page 25.

Planet or Plastic?

Planet or Plastic is National Geographic’s multiyear initiative to raise awareness about plastic consumption and its impact on the environment. This multimedia website contains articles, videos, and other educational resources with information about plastic use in global culture. See page 29.

Article

 

A Brief History of Plastics, Natural and Synthetic

This BBC article provides a short written history of plastics and the products made from them. If youth are interested in learning more about the development of plastic polymers as technology, have them read this article. See page 27.

Game

 

Polymer Chain Game

In this game, youth build polymer chains by grabbing onto monomers that float by. This game is an interactive way to introduce the concept of monomers and polymers. It’s simple—but not always easy! See page 23.