Plastics Analysis Lab Lesson Plans-Books Pdf

Plastics Analysis Lab Lesson Plans

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Plastics Analysis Lab (modified from Christopher S. Kollman, Chem 13 News, January 1994) 1. Before conducting this lab, students should be familiar with the concept of density. 2. If students are not familiar with flow charts, we suggest that you try having them read the chart and discuss its meaning before the lab. Have students tell which ...




Exploration
What do the students already know What will happen if This part of the learning cycle actively
involves the student with his or her peers with minimal teacher input
Previous Week
Students bring to class plastic containers with resin identification codes embossed on them 1 6
An example of the code
You will notice that in the cases of codes 1 and 3 we refer to the resins as PET and PVC
respectively However the actual codes on the containers are PETE and V These resins are
correctly referred to in both ways
It might be a good idea to award bonus points for samples brought to school so that each class
has a wide variety of containers to study The containers are collected in a large box in the
classroom Before the first class period on the study of plastics the teacher must remove the
embossed code on the bottom of the containers Just cut down the side of the container and
remove it It is okay to partially destroy the container It is not necessary to save the codes nor to
identify which container was coded with a particular number
Student groups may be given pieces of containers for this activity They do not need the whole
container It works well to have plastic bags of containers ready for each group in the class
Introduce the topic of plastics by asking your students what comes into their minds when the word
plastic is heard At some point in the discussion the resin identification codes will be mentioned
Ask your students what they think the numbers mean Finally place an overhead transparency of
Plastic Resin Identification Codes on the overhead projector using the handout included in
Classroom Materials below to make a transparency and tell them the names for the letter
abbreviations At this point it is not expected that students will know what is meant by the long
chemical names but the introduction is important
Place students into cooperative groups Give each group a felt tip marker a bag of plastic
containers with the plastic code removed and the sheet Classification of Plastic Containers see
Classroom Materials below Challenge the groups of students to put the containers in their
appropriate groupings 1 6 These are 1 PET 2 HDPE 3 PVC 4 LDPE 5 PP 6 PS
Sharing their ideas with others in their group and recording their thoughts is appropriate A
student recorder should be assigned to each group Toward the end of the class period one
representative will share with the class their classifications of the containers and how the group
arrived at their decisions A lively discussion may occur because the students don t have much
information about the categories Keep each group s categories of plastics in a separate place or
in a bag marked for that group These will be used later A marker should be used to identify each
container with the plastic number that they assigned
Classroom worksheets see Appendix
Table of Plastic Resin Identification Codes
Classification of Plastics Containers
Concept Introduction
The teacher plays an active role in the introduction of new ideas This is a laboratory exercise
where students work in pairs or small groups The Plastics Analysis Lab may take two days for
larger classes Use the enclosed student laboratory instructions and worksheets for this activity
Plastics Analysis Lab
modified from Christopher S Kollman Chem 13 News January 1994
1 Before conducting this lab students should be familiar with the concept of density
2 If students are not familiar with flow charts we suggest that you try having them read the
chart and discuss its meaning before the lab Have students tell which plastic floats in
alcohol and oil Will this same plastic float in water Which plastic has a green flame with
the copper wire test Will PS soften in acetone
3 The four test areas must be set up before the class starts Be sure to keep the flammable
liquids and the hot plate in separate locations for safety reasons Also make sure
students wear safety glasses and avoid breathing in fumes during the experiment
4 If you do not want your students to have open flames in the room to do the copper wire
test have your students bring the resin to you to demonstrate this test for them Using
insulated copper wire by peeling off the end of the insulation also works well for this test
5 Each group of students needs samples of the six recycled resins to identify Each group
should have about 10 pellets of each type
6 Acetone is the active ingredient in some fingernail polish removers so your drugstore is a
good source for this chemical Please read the label of the fingernail polish remover to
make sure that the primary active ingredient is acetone If you use fingernail polish
remover instead of acetone students must leave the plastic sample in the liquid for a
longer period of time in order to detect any softening of the plastic Please check the
timing of this test before the students do the lab A special container must be provided for
the used resins since acetone on the pellet may be a fire hazard until the acetone
evaporates
7 Isopropyl rubbing alcohol is also available from the drugstore but make sure it is 70
percent to 90 percent since the density is not one gram mL When preparing the
materials listed on page 27 60 grams of isopropyl rubbing alcohol is equal to 65 mL for
the alcohol solution
8 Mazola corn oil has the correct density to separate 4 and 5 resins so do not
substitute another kind of oil
9 Have your students place their used resins in appropriate containers at the end of the
laboratory period so that you can recycle them for another class Have labeled containers
set up for the each resin
10 The PET resin in this kit does not soften in boiling water for the heat test Students will not
have to use this test to distinguish between PS and PET because the acetone test will
identify both Most bottles made out of PET will soften in boiling water so students can use
this property when testing containers To demonstrate this in class simply use pre cut strips
of soda bottles
Answers to Conclusion questions
1 Identify the resins by color
1 PET Polyethylene Terephthalate white
2 HDPE High density Polyethylene off white
3 PVC Polyvinyl Chloride gray
4 LDPE Low density Polyethylene brown
5 PP Polypropylene black
6 PS Polystyrene blue
2 HDPE LDPE and PP because their densities are less than 1 00 g mL
3 Do not use PET because it softens at 100 degrees Celsius
4 The bottle was made of PS since it softens in acetone or fingernail polish remover
5 The alcohol solution was about 0 94 g mL since HDPE sinks in this solution
6 Adhering air bubbles will add buoyancy to the sample and therefore the density will be
less than expected
7 The mixture of LDPE and PP will not show up in the water density test since their
densities are so similar A mixture of PET and HDPE will change the density depending on
how much of each is present in the mixture
Classroom worksheets see Appendix
Plastics Analysis Lab
Observations and Notes on Reactions
Conclusions
Concept Application
Can students take the containers that they originally classified in Day One and check their
Student assessment will be done in the laboratory setting The original groups of students from
Day One will perform tests on their containers to see if they were correct in their groupings of the
plastics Use this section s student data sheet Assessment of Plastic Container Classification
Allow students to make changes to their groupings after their laboratory experience with the
resins but before they actually test the containers Assessment is based on students being able to
follow the flow chart using their plastic containers not the resins Each container must be tested
by cutting a 1 cm X 1 cm piece or by using a hole punch to obtain the circle for test purposes
Grading is NOT based on the correctness of the original groupings At this point it is possible to
observe the groups at work for a general grade or to give a written assignment for the group to
explain their results
Another way to assess students thinking about plastics is to have them draw a cartoon type
sketch telling the different steps needed in a factory to separate plastics for recycling Challenge
students to make this efficient cost effective a good use of man woman power etc Students
could also be encouraged to make a videotape of their factory Local groups that recycle
plastics could be invited to speak to the class or a field trip might be possible See Section 4 of
this kit for the phone number of your state recycling office to contact for help with this
The videotape Not Your Average Field Trip from the Society of Plastics Engineers is 19
minutes long and appropriate for the middle level student It includes discussions of plastics and
the engineering needed for football helmets artificial limbs auto design and recycling
Classroom worksheets see Appendix
Assessment of Plastic Container Classification
Appendix A
Plastic Resin Identification Codes
1 PETE Polyethylene Terephthalate PET
2 HDPE High Density Polyethylene
3 V Polyvinyl Chloride PVC or Vinyl
4 LDPE Low Density Polyethylene
5 PP Polypropylene
6 PS Polystyrene
Appendix B
Classification of Plastic Containers
Group Members
Group Recorder
Place each container in a specific resin code category There are SIX categories Use physical properties
to classify the containers Using your senses examine each container for texture gloss or shine color
flexibility transparency odor etc Remember that all six categories may not be represented by the
containers you brought to school for this exercise Use a marker to place the number of the code on each
container once the group has made its final decisions
Resin Code Container Descriptions Physical Properties
Pick a spokesperson to describe your choices for the class discussion
Appendix C
Plastics Analysis Lab
Student Name
Activity Flow Chart
Density Table
Substance Density
Water 1 00
1 PET 1 38 1 39
2 HDPE 0 95 0 97
3 PVC 1 16 1 35
4 LDPE 0 92 0 94
5 PP 0 90 0 91
6 PS 1 05 1 07
To identify the six kinds of recycled plastic resins by measuring their physical and chemical
properties
Background
The plastics industry uses resin pellets to make plastic containers Each of the recycled resins is
color coded to help you keep them separate in this analysis but each may be made in any color
These resin samples have come from recycled products
6 samples of resin pellets
250 mL beakers
100 mL beaker
Bunsen burners or alcohol burners
forceps tongs and plastic spoons
1 hot plate
stirring rods or Popsicle sticks
copper wires 5 cm 20 gauge
50 mL acetone
60 g isopropyl alcohol 70
glass petri dish
100 mL corn oil
small cups to hold resin samples
1 Notice the test areas in the room Some tests are to be done only at those locations
while others will be performed at your lab desk There are four specific test areas in the room
that your teacher has set up
a Acetone Test Have 50 mL of acetone in a 100 mL beaker covered with a glass
petri dish KEEP THIS TEST AREA AWAY FROM FLAMES Acetone is highly
flammable and must be kept away from flames and covered when not in use
Have tongs or forceps available
b Heat Test Have 125 mL water in a 250 mL beaker on a hot plate Keep this at a
rolling boil Have tongs available Make sure this does not boil dry
c Isopropyl Alcohol Test Put 60 g or 65 mL isopropyl rubbing alcohol 70 in a
250 mL beaker and add enough water to make 100 g or 100 mL of solution
Mix Have tongs or forceps available Have plastic spoons available
d Oil Test Put 100 mL of corn oil in a 250 mL beaker Have tongs or forceps
available Have plastic spoons available
The other two tests water and copper wire are to be done at your lab station
2 You and your lab partner are given six different kinds of recycled resins You should have
about 10 pellets of each resin or color Use the flow chart below and the descriptions of the
tests to identify the resins Keep notes of your observations on the sheet provided
The following resins are the six you need to identify
1 PET polyethylene terephthalate
2 HDPE high density polyethylene
3 PVC polyvinyl chloride
4 LDPE low density polyethylene
5 PP polypropylene
6 PS polystyrene
Water Test
At your lab desk place one pellet of each of the recycled resin samples in 100 mL of tap water at
room temperature in a 250 mL beaker Poke the pieces with a glass stirring rod to knock off any
adhering bubbles and try to make them sink Note whether the sample floats or sinks Do not
pour the resin samples down the sink they are insoluble in water Take the resin pellets out of
the water with your fingers and save the pellets for later Use the Density Table on the previous
page to find the density ranges for each type of plastic Proceed down the flow chart do the tests
indicated and record all your observations on the sheet provided
Copper Wire Test
At your lab desk using forceps hold the 5 cm length of copper wire in the hot part of the flame of
a Bunsen burner or alcohol burner until it is red hot Remove from the flame and carefully touch a
resin pellet with the hot wire It may stick to the wire at this point so you will need to take another
pair of forceps to pull the pellet off the wire Place the wire with some plastic glob on it not the
pellet back in the flame observing the color of the flame that comes from the glob You will
notice a green or orange flame color Quench the sample in a beaker of water to stop the burning
and cool the wire Proceed down the flow chart
Acetone Test
Take your sample resin to the acetone test area in the room Using tongs place a pellet in
acetone for 20 seconds Remove the pellet and press firmly between your fingers The polymer
chains may loosen up and feel soft and sticky Try to scrape off some plastic with your
fingernail There may be no reaction to this scrape test Discard the pellet in a container provided
Note If you are using fingernail polish remover instead of acetone leave the resin pellet in for at
least one minute Use your fingernail to try to scrape the pellet to see if the outer layer has
softened Place the used resin pellet in the special container for waste Proceed down the flow
Take your sample resin to the heat test area Using tongs hold one pellet in boiling water for 30
seconds PET 1 has a relatively low softening point and will show some reaction to the 100
degree Celsius water Press the pellet between your fingers to see if it feels softened after you
remove it from the water Discard the pellet in the trash can Proceed down the flow chart
Isopropyl Alcohol Test
Take five resin pellets to the isopropyl alcohol test area Place the pellets in the solution and poke
the pellets with a stirring rod to release any bubbles Note whether the pellets float or sink Scoop
the pellets out with a plastic spoon and take the pellets back to your lab station Proceed down
the flow chart
Take five resin pellets to the oil test area Place them in the oil and poke the pellets with a stirring
rod to release any bubbles Note whether the pellets float or sink Identify the resin from the flow
chart Scoop the pellets out with a plastic spoon and wipe them off with a paper towel Take the
pellets back to your lab station
Please recycle your resins in the appropriate containers Try not to mix the resins
Appendix D
Observations and Notes on Reactions
Student Name
Pellet color
Water test results
Other test results
Pellet color
Water test results
Other test results
Pellet color
Water test results
Other test results
Pellet color
Water test results
Other test results
Pellet color
Water test results
Other test results
Pellet color
Water test results
Other test results
Appendix E
Conculsions
Student Name
1 Identify the resins by color
1 PET polyethylene terephthalate
2 HDPE high density polyethylene
3 PVC polyvinyl chloride
4 LDPE low density polyethylene
5 PP polypropylene
6 PS polystyrene
2 Your boat is sinking about two miles off shore and you are not a good swimmer You
notice six large solid plastic blocks labeled 1 2 3 4 5 6 Which three should you grab


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