What are plastics? Part two

Lesson overview

Plastic is not just one product but comes in many different forms. In this lesson, students will learn about the different types of plastic and why each type might be useful. Students will then complete a practical activity creating their own plastic slime using PVA and borax (which makes a polymer) and reflect on the variety of uses for plastics.

Learning outcomes
  • Understand how to identify the seven types of plastic
  • Describe the plastic production process
  • Describe the plastic recycling process
  • Create a polymer
  • Reflect on sustainable alternatives to plastic
Lesson steps
  1. Plastic identification (10 mins)
    Students understand that plastic comes in different forms and can often be identified by looking for a number, usually on the underside of a product. Students examine different plastics and group them accordingly.
  2. Plastic production (10 mins)
    Students look at Gallery: Where does plastic come from? and discuss how plastics are produced. Students find out what is meant by monomer and polymer. They then order the significant events in this process.
  3. Plastic recycling (10 mins)
    Students look at Gallery: How is plastic recycled? which demonstrates how plastic is sorted, washed, shredded and reused in a 'down-cycling' process.
  4. Making plastic slime (20 mins)
    Students complete Activity Overview 2a: Making plastic slime, in which they create a polymer using borax and PVA glue.
  5. Innovation Diary (10 mins)
    Students consider alternatives for plastic bottles and discuss whether they are sustainable or not.