Can you become a plastic investigator around your house? Did you know that plastic is not a single material, but a range of different chemical substances that all have different properties? In this activity, you will have to try to find as many different types of plastic as possible.
Most plastics are made from oil but, by adding different chemicals, you can create different types of plastic, which are called resins. Different resins can be used to make all kinds of products.
You may have seen a number surrounded by a triangle of arrows on some plastic products. This is the resin identification code and tells you what type of plastic it is.
Have a look at this interactive diagram, to learn about seven different types of plastic (resins) you might find at home.
In the kitchen, you might find a plastic bottle made from PET (Resin Identification Code 1), with a top made from Polypropylene (RIC 5). Or a milk bottle made from HDPE (RIC 2). In your bin, there might be a plastic bag made from LDPE (RIC 4).
The bathroom is also a good hunting ground for different types of plastic with shampoo bottles made from HDPE (RIC 2), contact lens cases made from Polypropylene (RIC 5) and toothpaste tubes made from layers of different plastics (RIC 7). Sanitary products can be up to 90% plastic, often LDPE (RIC 4).
Elsewhere in the house, you might find a window frame made from PVC (RIC 3) and clothes or bedding made from Nylon or Acrylic both RIC 7.
There are two lessons from the Ocean Plastics Teacher Resources that can develop the learning in this activity. How are plastics made? is a materials science lesson for ages 11-14. For ages 7-11, try What are plastics? Part two.
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Cross-curricular | Ages 7-11
Ocean Plastic ages 7-11 unit is a KS1 teacher resource that introduces students to the issue of plastic pollution. Students study materials, their properties and are inspired to enact change in their communities.
Science | Ages 11-14
Ocean Plastics Science ages 11-14 unit is a KS3 teacher resource combining both biology and chemistry. Students discover the journey plastic takes from manufacture, use, and disposal into the ocean. Included are teacher resources that allow students to emulate real research conducted by The University of Plymouth.