Over 2,500 pupils across the UK have had the interesting world of plastics introduced to them via a bespoke science lesson, delivered by trained ‘polymer ambassadors’ from across the UK plastics industry.
The Polymer Ambassador Scheme was launched at the end of 2016, with school visits starting in 2017. The initiative provides people from across the plastics industry with the opportunity to teach school children about polymers by training them to use an engaging kit of five plastics-related science experiments. The Polymer Ambassador Scheme is run by the British Plastics Federation (BPF) and PlasticsEurope and has proved to be a great success, with more than 80 people already trained.
Following the advent of British Science Week – a ten-day celebration of the core Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects – the BPF is encouraging all levels of staff to grasp this as an opportunity to educate the younger generation about plastics and sustainability.
BPF Industrial Issues Executive Mo Elkhalifa states: “Reaching over 2,500 pupils is a major milestone that highlights the value of being a polymer ambassador. As society continues to learn how to use plastics more intelligently, it is vital that children understand the enormous potential of polymers, how interesting and variable their properties can be, and the value they bring to our everyday lives. If you work in the plastics industry, we will be training more polymer ambassadors during 2020 and you can register interest now.”
PlasticsEurope Regional Director Kim Christiansen states: “Polymer ambassadors are trained how to successfully deliver an interesting and informative science lesson, together with relevant information about working with children in an educational setting. We are delighted that – with the support of those in our industry – these educational kits have proved to be such a valuable teaching resource and that so many pupils have been reached. These are the engineers and material scientists of the future.”
One polymer ambassador, Mexichem Specialty Compounds Technical Manager Adam Killoran, recently reported back after a school visit: “The bottom line is that kids like to get their hands dirty and the experiments don’t disappoint in that regard – the teachers, on the other hand, might have a different view! The box of experiments is a great way to introduce our younger generation to the world of polymers and how they can be helpful. It also helps them to think about how they can behave responsibly in the use and disposal of single-use plastics.”
Building on the success of the existing scheme, the BPF is developing a recycling-focused science kit, again with the support of PlasticsEurope, which is linked to learning objectives within the National Curriculum. This will teach students how to distinguish between and sort different plastics such as LDPE, PP and PET.
To register interest in becoming a polymer ambassador and for more information visit: www.bpf.co.uk/polymer-zone/polymer-ambassadors/default