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Plastics Playtime

  • Age range: 9-11 years
  • Science topic: Materials
  • Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests, Grouping and classifying, Observing changes over time, Problem solving

Children test and classify plastics before investigating their thermal insulation and shock resistance properties. The children then design, make and test a package for a fragile object, using plastics and other materials.

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Sorting plastics items: How many things?

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Grouping and classifying
Keywords: materials, properties, plastic, observe, sort, group, compare

A collection of everyday items made from plastics will provide the focus for this activity. Children sort the items using given criteria or properties they have chosen themselves, giving reasons for their choices.


Home survey of items made from plastics

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Grouping and classifying
Keywords: materials, properties, plastic, survey, observe, sort, group, compare

Children could carry out a survey to list as many plastics items as possible found at home, school and outside. The information could be collated on a large table of results and used for further discussion of similarities and differences in use.


Will it float?

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Grouping and classifying
Keywords: plastic, float, sink, properties, PVC, polythene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene

Children investigate and identify four unknown plastics by testing samples for their floating or sinking properties.


Will it crease?

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Grouping and classifying
Keywords: plastic, properties, crease, stress whitening, PVC, polythene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene

Children test the flexibility of four unknown plastic samples and complete their identification by devising and using a simple classification key.


Keeping things warm or cold

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Grouping and classifying
Keywords: plastic, materials, properties, thermal insulator, thermal conductor, temperature, thermometer, measure, heating, cooling, fair test, variables, observe, measure

Children set up their own investigation to compare the thermal insulating properties of polystyrene, expanded polystyrene and metal.


A fragile parcel

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests
Keywords: plastic, materials, packaging, shock absorbing, fair test, variables, observe, measure

Children devise their own investigations to observe and measure the shock-absorbing properties of a variety of materials used in packaging.


Egg-spress Delivery

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Problem solving
Keywords: plastic, materials, packaging, shock absorbing, fragile, protection, mass, cost, entrepreneur

Children are challenged to this mini-enterprise activity to design packaging that will protect a fragile product.


How does polystyrene expand?

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Observing changes over time
Keywords: polystyrene, expanded polystyrene, observe, change, irreversible, permanent, heat, expand, compress, sphere

Children get innovative by designing and making a toy or game using expanded polystyrene spheres


Partners

BASF The unit was funded by BASF plc.