Tonasket Students Explore Bioplastics as an Alternative to Traditional Plastics

Published On: April 12th, 2022|Categories: District News, News|
Tonasket Students Explore Bioplastics as an Alternative to Traditional Plastics

The room was a buzz as students pulled their bioplastics from the cabinet where samples had been left drying over the weekend.

Some sounds of disappointment could be heard across the room as well as some exclamations of “Check it out!” Eighteen middle school students at Tonasket School District had spent the week of February 7th learning about the principles of green chemistry, traditional plastic, and bioplastic.

Cari Haug, NCESD Regional Science Coordinator, jumped back into the middle school classroom to teach Tonasket middle school students about green chemistry principles and bioplastics. ClimeTime funding is supporting the work of expanding the use of green chemistry principles in classrooms across the state in order to reduce the chemical hazards to people and the environment. Cari was asked by a Tonasket Middle School teacher, Jackie Gliddon, to assist her bringing these principles to her students.

Tonasket Middle School students forming their bioplastic into a shape before allowing them to dry overnight.

First students conducted literature and video research around bioplastics exploring the question, “Are bioplastics a good alternative to traditional plastics?” At the end of the week, students were able to work in pairs to make their own bioplastics. Each team used a different combination of starch, additive, and catalyst so a comparison could be made across bioplastics. Students were asked to make a recommendation for the use of the bioplastic they made based on items they were familiar with that are currently made from plastic. Students made videos of themselves sharing their Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) to provide a scientific explanation whether they believed bioplastics make a good alternative to traditional plastics.

In a follow up survey, students shared that while they didn’t feel like the bioplastic they made turned out to be very usable, they did feel that bioplastics were important to develop and use as an alternative to traditional plastic, citing that it is safer for the environment and made from renewable materials. Students also shared that their favorite part of the week was being able to make their own bioplastics.

Written by Cari Haug, NCESD Regional Science Coordinator
Published April 12, 2022

Tonasket Middle School student measuring the needed catalyst for making their bioplastic.

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