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How Are Polymers Utilized in Everyday Life?

Retrieved from the Akron Global Polymer Academy at

Grades: 9-12
Author: Amber Pinkney
Source: Idea derived from Darrell Woods and John Grabowski


Students will choose one of the ten areas of polymer science from the Macrogalleria web site. They will use the Macrogalleria web site to gather information to put into a graphic organizer. From the information on their graphic organizer the students will construct a Power Point presentation to report their findings to the class.


What should the students know as a result of this lesson?

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?


1. Internet Access
2. Power Point
3. Website -
4. Graphic Organizer.


1. Introduce the students to a variety of different types of polymers. Bring in examples and have a class discussion about each one.
2. Discuss how these polymers might be used in our everyday lives.
3. Introduce the posed problem/required task.*To assess, listen to student discussion. Become familiar with how much background knowledge they have about these different types of polymers.?

1. Although there are no safety issues associated with this activity, the teacher will need to describe management procedures for the use of the classroom computers. These procedures will vary according to each individual teacher's classroom and/or students' use of the computers in a lab setting.
2. Introduce the students to the Macrogalleria web site and allow them time to become familiar with it.
3. Assign each pair one of the ten areas of polymer science: Coatings, Polymer Gels, Polymer Solutions, Optical Fibers, Polystyrene, Kevlar, Aramids (nylons), Anionic Vinyl Polymerization, Rayon, Silicones, and Natural Polymers.
4. The students will gather information about each of their assigned topics including:a. The chemical and physical properties/structures.b. The uses and benefits of the polymer.c. The improvements that have been made over past technologies.d. The pros and cons of using the polymer.
5. The students will gather this information by visiting at least two of the other links that are provided on their assigned area’s web site.
6. The students will place their findings into a graphic organizer.*To assess, watch the students as they work together and check their graphic organizers..

1. Design a Power Point presentation using the notes from the graphic organizer. The Power Point presentation should contain the following elements:

a. The chemical and physical properties/structures of the polymers.
b. The uses and benefits of the polymer.
c. The improvements that have been made over past technologies.
d. The pros and cons of using the polymer.
e. Evidence that the students have visited at least two of the links that are within their assigned area’s web site.
f. The final Power Point Presentation should contain between 12 -15 slides.

2. Present the Power Point to the class.*To assess, ensure that the students have all of the above criteria in their Power Point. Ask the audience to synthesize the information presented in their journals. At the end of the reports, ask each student to summarize two-three main ideas derived from listening to the reports..

1. Find out if there are any polymer factories in your town. If there are, research what these factories manufacture and how they do it. Perhaps, if you have time schedule a field trip to one of these factories.
2. Based on what the students have learned from their research, have them design and conduct experiments to test some of the polymers discussed in class.To assess, collect the student’s research and experiment designs.


Skill with using Power Point softwareInternet Usage.

Students may not have an understanding of how polymers are used in our everyday lives. Students may be unaware of the complexities and varieties of polymeric materials and may think of "polymers' as "plastics".

Best Teaching Practices

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

Common Core Standards:

National Standards:

Ohio Standards:

Content Knowledge





The purpose of this lesson is to have the students explore how polymers are used in our everyday lives. They will become familiar with the importance of these materials by learning about their various uses, the pros and cons to using these types of materials, the chemical and physical properties of these materials, and how these materials have evolved over time.



Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions:
Groups of two.

Pacing/Suggested Time:
One week..

Printable PDF Worksheets (Click on links below to view and print worksheets)


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