Plastics in the ocean: resources for chemists
These resources can be used alongside the Catalyst article Plastics in the ocean
Links and Resources
This short video looks at the issue of disposal of plastics and makes the case for recycling of plastic products. It links recycling options to whether the plastic is thermosoftening or thermosetting and briefly looks at mechanical and chemical recycling for these two groups of plastics. It finishes by discussing the design of biodegradable plastics and the desirability of manufacturing less plastic in the first place. This video might be useful to stimulate discussion of options available
This resource contains a suite of activities related to increasing students' awareness of plastics and the issues surrounding the disposal and recycling of plastics. Used selectively it could provide ideas for discussion or project work in this area.
In this activity students look at the issue of use of plastic shopping bags. The resource contains a power point and student sheets as well as teacher notes on how to run the activity. The activity involves students acting as "expert witnesses" and answering questions from other students who then formulate a view on the problem based on the presented evidence. A nice approach to getting students to debate a topical issue allowing them to gather and balance evidence for and against approaches to solving an environmental issue created by our dependence on plastics
This resource provides a detailed overview of the topic of polymers, teaching suggestions, practical activities, student activity sheets, powerpoint presentations and useful links. The practical ideas are fun and explore the properties of some interesting polymers, although some are for teacher demonstration only. The student activities are short enough to be part of a single lesson or could be used together as a circus of activities. Some inexpensive but specialist resources are required for several of the activities.
This resource describes the fortuitous discovery of Teflon by a chemist who was working at the DuPont Chemical Plant. It includes background information for teachers and a student worksheet describing the discovery in an interesting way and including questions to encourage students to think about the ideas being presented. This could be used as part of a lesson on polymers to introduce applications or a human context.
This resource bundles several student worksheets giving students practice at drawing the structure of a polymer given the monomer and vica versa, as well as naming the monomer from the name of the polymer and the reverse. The resource needs some explanation to be used effectively and it might be useful to model answering a question or two for groups before setting them off on the task, but provides good practise in this skill.
This is short video from Twig World focusing on the chemistry of addition polymerisation and the factors that affect the properties of the final polymer. This would be more suitable once students have a basic understanding of what polymers are and have learned about how alkenes link together to form addition polymers.
This is another Catalyst article which looks at the use of polymers in the manufacture of household items. The exciting thing about polymers is that it is possible to make polymers behave in so many different ways by organising their long chain molecules in different ways – polymers are the ultimate designer material. The article looks at their molecular chain and also the future for polymers in manufacturing.
Another article discussing how polymers affect every day of people’s lives. With diverse characteristics and applications their usefulness can only be limited by human imagination. Due to polymers’ widespread and varied use a responsible and systematic recycling programme is both economically and environmentally advantageous
A Catalyst article about the problems of recycling plastics. The article looks at novel uses for products made from recycled plastics. It also looks at the make-up of polymers and the history of their manufacture. Finally, alternatives to plastics are examined.