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Polymers Where Are You?

Grades: 6-8
Author: Dr. Kathie Owens
Source: Amended from a lesson by Roberta Gangl and Jill Morton


Teacher will introduce the concept, "what is a polymer?" using video clips from the AGPA website (grades 5-8). Students will make a collection of common objects made of polymeric materials and formulate their own questions as to the make-up of these objects.


What should students know as a result of this lesson?

  • Students will realizes that polymeric materials can be found all around them and that polymers are more than plastics.

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

  • Students will refine their computer skills as they conduct Internet research on specific polymeric materials and processes.


Classroom computers with access to the Internet; one computer for the teacher's use needs to be connected to a projector. Print materials about polymeric materials may be accessible through the school's library.



The teacher will pre-assess the students' knowledge of polymers. One way to do this pre-assessment would be to show students various objects made from polymers and ask students what the objects have in common. Teacher will introduce the concept, "what is a polymer?" using video clips from the AGPA website (grades 5-8). Teacher poses these problems: What kinds of polymers make up everyday objects? How common are polymeric materials in our lives? Teacher guides students to formulate their procedure to answering these open-ended questions. Project should describe at least three polymeric materials, contain a display of 6-8 objects (in total) and an oral/written presentation of key findings. Assessment of engagement: Using questions, the teacher leads student to realize how commonplace is the use of polymeric materials in everyday objects. Before proceeding with students' research on the topic, the teacher makes sure that the students can describe common polymeric materials and give several examples of the use of these materials.


There are no safety issues related to this lesson, however, the teacher will need to stress to the students that any objects brought to class to display examples of polymeric materials must be safe to handle. The teacher will need to make available computers and other research references to facilitate the students' research. Give students time in the computer lab or using classroom computers to research the kinds and nature of polymeric materials. If students are skilled in using PowerPoint software encourage them to use this program to record their findings.

Assessment: The teacher monitors the students' work, making sure that they are describing at least three types of polymeric material and have decided on representative objects of each material.


Students report their findings and answer the posed questions. After all reports have been shared with the class, the teacher asks students to infer what their lives would be like if the products displayed did not exist or had been made with non-polymeric materials. For an assessment, the students summarize their learning in their journals. In their summaries ask students to respond to this question: explain how technology influences the quality of life.


HStudents will further investigate polymeric materials in nature and at home using the resources found at this website:

Assessment: Have students draw and label a mini-poster showing the use of polymeric materials both in nature and at home. Require that their examples are different from the ones pictured on the website.


Skills None

Misconceptions Students are probably unaware of the variety of polymeric materials and think of "polymers" as "plastics".

Best Teaching Practices

  • Student-Centered Instruction
  • Inquiry Approaches
  • Communication Skills

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

  • MS-PS1-3 Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.

Common Core Standards:

  • RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
  • RST.6-8.3 Follow preciesly a multistep procedure when carrying our experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
  • WHST.6-8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.

National Standards:

  • Science and Technology: Understandings about science and technology.

Ohio Standards:

  • Science and Technology, Grade 6 Indicator: Explain how technology influences the quality of life.

Content Knowledge



None within the research; caution students to bring "safe" examples of polymeric objects to class.


Throughout the lesson there are numerous connections to everyday life.



Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: 2-3 per group.

Pacing/Suggested Time: Engagement: one day; Exploration: two days; Explanation: two days; Elaboration: one day

Printable PDF Worksheets

Group Worksheet