Monday, March 21, 2011

Science "In the News" on Plant-based Plastics and Science Literacy

Here is a quote from, "In the News," which I have quoted here because otherwise it changes on a different day. It is provided by The Free Dictionary and on todays date is found in the left hand column.

Using current events is helpful in science classes. I was going to address plant-based plastics because at the canteen in the Everglades, they used cups made from plants and that was exciting. Then, here the plant based plastics are being used for the soft-drink industry.

I am not pushing soda (You must use your own science knowledge and skills to make a decision about soda in your diet, but I am commending the company for moving toward a renewable resource-based bottle. That is a good thing.

Quoted material and photograph follow:

"Pepsi Unveils Fully Plant-Based BottlePepsiCo has unveiled what it claims is the first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, renewable sources. It is not biodegradable or compostable, but it is fully recyclable. Traditional PET plastic is made using fossil fuels, but the new "green bottle" is made from materials like switch grass, pine bark, and corn husks. In the future, it may incorporate orange and potato peels, oat hulls, and other byproducts from the company's food production lines. By drawing on existing plant waste rather than growing plants specifically for this purpose, Pepsico will be making use of some of the estimated 2 billion tons of agricultural waste produced each year. More ... Discuss"

How can you use an article like this to engage students in science classes?

How can such an article enhance science literacy?

Could you use it to encourage students to design experiments based on the ideas they get from reading it?

Can students find related information to help them make judgements based on facts they find out about these bottles? Or, about sodas (pop)?

Could they speculate on making plastics from different plants?

Note that such an article could also give students career ideas:

"The new bottle looks, feels and protects the drink inside exactly the same as its current bottles, said Rocco Papalia, senior vice president of advanced research at PepsiCo."

Did you ever think of doing research at Pepsi or a company like Pepsi? What kind of company would you like to do research at?

Such open ended questions can start students thinking about the role of science in their lives. It can get them excited about learning more science.


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