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Plastics and Polymers
Image: iStockphoto.com/RapidEye

Plastics and Polymers

Have you ever dropped your shampoo bottle in the shower? Thank goodness it's made from plastic! We use plastic everyday. Take a minute to look around the room. How many objects are plastic?

Investigate how plastics are made, the two types of plastics, and the impact plastics may have on our environment.

The Nobel Foundation
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Building Bridges from Plastic Shampoo Bottles

Building Bridges from Plastic Shampoo Bottles

Your old shampoo or water bottle could support a train or a tank. Jim Kerstein, CTO/Founder of Axion International, explains how his company builds bridges with plastic waste. More...

Article
NPR
Giant Fish Sculptures Made from Discarded Plastic Bottles in Rio

Giant Fish Sculptures Made from Discarded Plastic Bottles in Rio

People continue to search for new ways to recycle the many plastic bottles we discard every day. Check out these gorgeous fish sculptures made entirely of plastic bottles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More...

Images
thisiscolossal.com
How It’s Made: Football Helmets

How It’s Made: Football Helmets

Plastics are used a lot in sports. Watch this video to see how plastic pellets are crafted into football helmets. More...

Video
Science Channel
“Plastiki” Sets Sail to Raise Awareness of Ocean Pollution

“Plastiki” Sets Sail to Raise Awareness of Ocean Pollution

In 2010 a group of men built a boat made of plastic bottles and sailed it from the U.S. to Australia to show how used plastic can be recycled. More...

Article
PBS
A Brief History of Plastic’s Conquest of the World

A Brief History of Plastic’s Conquest of the World

Plastic has replaced many traditional materials in our everyday lives. This brief history of plastic illustrates how that shift from the natural to a human-made product occurred. More...

Article
Scientific American
Advanced-Level Science Projects: Know Your Plastics

Advanced-Level Science Projects: Know Your Plastics

In this project you can learn about the different types of plastic and how to identify them. Knowing your PET from your PVC is important for recycling. More...

Activity
FactMonster.com
An Ocean of Plastic

An Ocean of Plastic

One of the biggest signs of our society's problem with plastic is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific garbage Patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas. Learn more. More...

Video
PBS
Are Plastic Drink Bottles Safe to Reuse for Drinking Water?

Are Plastic Drink Bottles Safe to Reuse for Drinking Water?

Refilling that empty plastic water bottle sounds like it might be a better idea than throwing it in the trash and getting a new one. But is it? More...

Article
SFGate
Bisphenol-A

Bisphenol-A

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is used to make many common plastic objects, like water bottles, and is probably in your body right now. Is that OK? Here’s how to limit your exposure while research goes on. More...

Article
National Geographic
Building Big: Materials Lab

Building Big: Materials Lab

Choose among concrete, reinforced concrete, plastic, and other construction materials, then see if you have the right stuff for your job. More...

Interactive
WGBH/PBS
Capt. Charles Moore on the Seas of Plastic

Capt. Charles Moore on the Seas of Plastic

Captain Charles Moore shows images and talks about the global impact of plastic in our seas. Plankton, whales, sea turtles, sea birds, and humans are all impacted by great patches of plastic garbage. More...

Video
TED
Corn Plastic to the Rescue

Corn Plastic to the Rescue

Recently, plastics made from corn have begun replacing petroleum-based plastics in some products. Is this an answer to our plastics problem, or is it just putting a different face on the same old problem? You decide. More...

Article
Smithsonian
Green Guide Plastics Quiz

Green Guide Plastics Quiz

Think you know a lot about plastic? Take this six-question quiz to test your knowledge! More...

Interactive
National Geographic
Heating Plastics

Heating Plastics

There are a lot of different types of plastics. Win this game by correctly figuring out the properties of different plastics and then use that knowledge to make something new. More...

Game
The Nobel Foundation
How Do I Reuse Plastic Bags?

How Do I Reuse Plastic Bags?

You probably have a lot of plastic bags around your house. What should you do with them other than put them in the recycling bin? Here are some ideas. More...

Activity
TheNest.com
Jeffrey Meikle: The Age of Plastics

Jeffrey Meikle: The Age of Plastics

Author Jeffrey Meikle takes us on a plastic tour from parachutes to Tupperware to clothing. Discover how plastics have shaped our American culture. More...

Profile
PBS
Leo Baekeland: Inside the Collection

Leo Baekeland: Inside the Collection

Bakelite is one of the best known early plastics. But this article argues that the man who developed the chemistry behind plastic production doesn't get enough credit. More...

Article
Powerhouse Museum
Make Plastic Milk

Make Plastic Milk

Got plastic? Thinsulate is a type of plastic polymer that bends to trap warmth. Try this to make bendable milk, which you will not want to drink. More...

Activity
Science Bob
Plastic Recycling

Plastic Recycling

Have you ever wondered what happens to your plastic after you've put it in the recycling bin? Take a look. More...

Video
Exploratorium
Plastic: A Toxic Love Story (in Pictures)

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story (in Pictures)

Plastic has been a real achievement in many ways, but it has also caused untold damage. Explore the dual nature of plastic in this image gallery. More...

Images
OnEarth
Scientist Profile: Medical Modeler

Scientist Profile: Medical Modeler

Danny Smith creates models of the human body. See how he uses different kinds of plastic to mold arms, legs, and other body parts. More...

Profile
DragonflyTV/PBS
What Is PVC?

What Is PVC?

Some call it the "poison plastic," but PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is everywhere. It’s made into pipes, shower curtains, window frames, and much more. Examine its pros and cons. More...

Article
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