Science and Innovation – A Boeing/Teaching Channel Partnership: Polymers for the Planet


Sneak Peek
Boeing What happens when engineers and educators collaborate? In a new series, Science and Innovation, created in partnership with The Boeing Company, students solve simulations of real world problems through the application of science, while using the engineering design process, all based on curriculum co-designed by Boeing engineers and teachers.

Five pairs of Boeing engineers were matched with STEM teachers in the Puget Sound area and in Houston to create 10 upper elementary and middle school science units. Each unit is designed to be taught in classrooms over a two-week period. This material is intended to meet a critical need by teachers for content that integrates engineering design thinking and problem-based learning — both of which are strongly emphasized in globally benchmarked science standards (e.g., Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)).

These inspirational units, including the first launched today, Polymers for the Planet, immerse students in science content as they engage in an iterative process to develop and test prototypes to solve a design challenge inspired by Boeing engineers.

The Rest of the Series

Here’s a sneak peek at the other modules in the series, which will be unveiled in September:

Cubesats icon Cubesats: Big Science in Small Packages
Design Challenge: Create cubesat satellite models and payloads for specific missions

Gliders icon Spy Gliders
Design Challenge: Test a glider payload that supports a mobile camera

acoustics iconQuieter Cabin
Design Challenge: Design a Quieter Cabin

Soft Landing iconThe Soft Landing: Egg Engineering
Design Challenge: Model and build a space capsule test tower and drop test using an electromagnetic switch

Alternative Energy iconAlternative Energy
Design Challenge: Test blade design to optimize a wind turbine

Biosuits iconBiosuits
Design Challenge: Design biosuits to meet various environmental demands

Mars iconMission to Mars
Design Challenge: Adapt a parachute design to facilitate reentry of a bottle rocket capsule

Boltcatcher iconBoltcatcher
Design Challenge: Adapt a skateboard to absorb maximum energy on impact

Polymers for the Planet

Classroom teacher Jessica Levine worked alongside Boeing engineers Kay Blohowiak and Jill Seebergh to develop Polymers for the Planet, a module of instruction that not only seamlessly interjects authentic industry practices into the classroom, but also builds student awareness about how they can have an impact on the world around them. The unit revisits the properties of matter and introduces students to polymeric materials and their properties, with hands-on activities that explores types and uses of plastics and reinforced plastic composites, as well as recycling/upcycling of plastics and composites.

The lessons are original, fast-paced, and provide a wonderful example of working scientists and engineers supporting educators to meet the needs of today’s students.

Watch the Video

Watch a lesson from the Polymers for the Planet unit and dive into the supporting instructional materials below. Then stay tuned for the debut of the rest of the modules and their accompanying videos in September!

Engineering Design in the Classroom: Composites and Polymers for the Planet

Polymers for the Planet: Download the Lessons

Polymers icon

Unit Overview
View the related NGSS alignment for each lesson. Download

Lesson 1: You Are an Engineer at Premier Polymer Providers
Students are introduced to the learning simulation that will take place during the unit. Download

Lesson 2: Polymers and Plastics (and Their Problems) in Your Life
Students participate in a hands-on activity, sorting polymer materials by density and other characteristics. Download

Lesson 3: Engineers Solve Problems
Students dig into their roles as engineers and begin to work through the engineering design process to solve the challenge. Download

Lessons 4 & 5: Making Prototype Bioplastic Coupons
Student teams execute their test plans for making the bioplastic formulations they selected and defined in lesson 3. Download

Lessons 6 & 7: Testing Prototype Coupons
Students test the prototype bioplastic coupons that they previously formulated. Download

Lesson 8: Optimizing Your Formula
Students review all of the data and findings during their qualitative observations and quantitative testing trials. Download

Lessons 9 & 10: Preparing Your Elevator Speech and Showcase
Students will showcase their findings by giving oral presentations that include one visual. Download


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