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Students design, produce, and test bioplastics to learn how the characteristics of plastics at the bulk scale are derived from their molecular structures. Combining their bioplastics analysis with prior knowledge of structural formulas, intermolecular forces, and polymers, students design a biofilm that meets an outlined set of requirements. General lab equipment and digital balances are needed but not included. Materials support 12 student groups.
Students construct an explanation by gathering data on the role plasticizers play in altering a bioplastic's structure and how that structural change impacts the bioplastic's physical and chemical properties.
Related PEs: HS-ESS3-4, HS-ETS1-2
Time Requirement: 160 minutes
SEP: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
CCC: Structure and Function
DCI: PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
Through their work in creating a bioplastic and designing a bioplastic film, students gain a better understanding of how a substance's macro-level behavior can be altered by changes in its molecular structure. General lab equipment and digital balances are needed but not included. Materials support 12 student groups. For best results, the bioplastic samples should dry in an open, low-humidity area with good airflow. Note: This lab requires a total of 6 days for sample drying: Investigation 1, the bioplastic preparation, requires 4 days; Investigation 2, the biofilm preparation, 2. To maximize efficiency, thirty-six 100-mL beakers and 36 ceramic fiber squares are recommended; however, the lab may be completed with 12 of each item. Although optional for this lab, calipers provide more accurate measurements of the bioplastic and bioplastic film thicknesses.
This kit is designed to be incorporated into a larger unit of instruction consisting of multiple experiences and taking place over several weeks. Anchoring phenomena for a larger unit of instruction may be derived from the following topics:
Kit includes free 1-year access to digital resources that support 3-dimensional instruction for NGSS.
|Agar, 100 g||1||Included|
|Gelatin, 500 g||1||Included|
|Glycerol, 200 mL||1||Included|
|Weighing Boats, Large||70||Included|
|Weighing Boats, Small||70||Included|
|Carolina Science Online® Resources (1-year subscription)||1||Included|
|Teacher's Manual with Reproducible Student Guide||1||Included|
|Beakers, 25 mL||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Beakers, 50 mL||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Beakers, 100 mL||36||Needed, Not Included|
|Beakers, 250 mL||16||Needed, Not Included|
|Graduated Cylinders, 25 mL||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Graduated Cylinders, 50 mL||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Erlenmeyer Flasks, 250 mL||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Beaker Tongs||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Hot Plates||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Digital Balances||4||Needed, Not Included|
|Pipets||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Ceramic Fiber Squares, 4 x 4"||36||Needed, Not Included|
|Spoons||4||Needed, Not Included|
|Permanent Markers||12||Needed, Not Included|
|Calipers (optional)||12||Needed, Not Included|