Why are plastics useful?

Lesson overview

In this chemistry Key Stage 3 (KS3) lesson, students investigate the different properties of plastics. In groups students design an investigation testing either thermal insulation or tensile strength. Included are teacher resources with an investigation template.

Learning outcomes
  • Describe how plastics can be both harmful and useful
  • Identify independent, dependent, and control variables
  • Develop investigation skills including control variables and repeats
  • Evaluate results in a graph
Lesson steps
  1. I couldn’t disagree more because... (5 mins)
    Students use media-based knowledge on plastics to describe how they can be both harmful and useful. These ideas are put on the board. Students work in pairs to play ‘I couldn’t disagree more because’.
  2. Variables (5 mins)
    Teacher explains what independent, dependent, and control variables are. The teacher shows two examples of investigations into plastics with the variables identified.
  3. Designing a practical (35 mins)
    Students design and carry out their own investigation using Student Sheet 2a: Plastics independent investigations.
  4. Analyse Data (10 mins)
    Students must graph their data using the design your test worksheet.
  5. Reflection: love, recycle, bin (5 mins)
    Students reflect on the lesson. They state one thing they loved, one thing they would bin (had rather not done) and one thing learned that they would like to recycle (needed for the next lesson).