STEM Investigations: Design a Biodegradable Plastic
In this activity, students will make samples of different bio-plastics to study how their composition affects their physical properties. They will then use what they have learned to create a bioplastic that could be used to replace the PET plastic in disposable water bottles.
Hundreds of millions of tons of plastic are produced each year and used for a variety of products, from packaging to automobiles. The majority of these products are disposable items, leading to excessive amounts of plastic being discarded into landfills and the oceans. Due to the major threat this poses to the environment, scientists and engineers are developing bioplastics that break down more quickly and produce less harmful byproducts than traditional plastics. In this activity, students will make samples of different bioplastics to study how their composition affects their physical properties. They will then use what they have learned to create a bioplastic that could be used to replace the PET plastic in disposable water bottles. Additionally, students will design an experiment to compare the biodegradability of their bioplastic samples to a traditional plastic. Kit contains enough materials for 15 groups. Teacher’s Manual and Student Study Guide copy masters are included.
Aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)*
Disciplinary Core Ideas: PS2.B; LS2.C; LS4.D; ETS1.B; ESS3.C; ETS1.A; ETS1.C
Performance Expectations: HS-PS2-6; HS-LS2-7; HS-ESS3-4; HS-ETS1-1; HS-ETS1-2; HS-ETS1-3
Cross Cutting Concepts: Structure and Function; Stability and Change
Engineering Practices: Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information; Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions; Asking Questions and Defining Problem
- 25 mL Glycerin
- 75 mL Vinegar
- 175 g Gelatin
- 125 g Starch
- 45 Petri dishes
- 30 Pipettes
*”Next Generation Science Standards” is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards was involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.