Polymers and Plastics in the Classroom: Educational Materials Demonstrating Life Cycle Thinking

Organizers: Jane E. Wissinger, Professor of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA; Michael Wentzel, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Augsburg University, Minneapolis, MN, USA

The topic of plastics, both society’s dependence on them and their effect on human health and the environment, is one that resonates with students of all ages. Plastics are uniquely familiar as materials that, in some cases, can be recycled, yet most are accumulating in alarming quantities on land and in our oceans. New green and sustainable chemistry innovations in polymers and nanomaterials provide compelling lessons to engage learners in systems thinking. This symposium will share educational materials which illustrate components/examples of “closing the loop” through use of renewable feedstocks, green reaction conditions, applications in areas such of remediation or more environmentally-friendly products, and end-of-life considerations such as design for degradation and/or recycling. Case studies will include K-12, undergraduate, and graduate instruction as well are outreach initiatives.