Unit Overview

Youth use the Engineering Design Process to design bioplastics as a biodegradable solution to the plastic problem.

  • Grades 6–8
  • Setting: Out of school
  • Science connection: Human impact on the environment
  • 8 activities
  • 50–60 Minutes per activity

Standards alignment

We’ve developed each EiE unit with careful attention to educational standards in both science and technology/engineering. View Standards Alignments.

Unit Map

Youth are introduced to engineering as they work in teams to engineer a catapult from a plastic spoon.
Youth learn about technology through a series of interactive games that explore the definition of technology.
Youth engineer a bouncy ball out of glue and borax and model the chemical structure by forming a human polymer.
Youth explore different types of plastics in their environment and investigate some problems created by plastics.
Youth create bioplastic samples out of agar and cornstarch.
Youth engineer a bioplastic with properties similar to a plastic they use in their daily lives.
Youth will engineer a bioplastic object using an improved recipe.
Youth communicate their work with visitors.


Special Report Video

Introduces the field of chemical engineering through an interview with Derek Samuelson, a biochemical engineer and fermentation manager at Metabolix. Use throughout the unit. (10:48)

What's Included?

  • Educator Guide (PDF)
  • Engineering Journal (PDF)
  • Special Report Video (YouTube)
  • Print Materials (PDF)