Put chemistry into context and encourage your 11–14 students to use their critical thinking skills as they consider biomass

A photo of tree trunks showing their growth rings

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Engage your 11–14 students with plant-based plastics and biomass using these classroom activities

Alongside climate change, plastic waste is one of the biggest challenges to face this generation. Engaging students in the debate around how to tackle these issues is a great way to put their chemistry learning into context. Introducing students to new technologies such as creating new products from biomass will ignite their imagination and demonstrate the possibilities of a future in science.

These two classroom activities will encourage students to use their critical thinking skills as they consider the advantages and disadvantages of making plastic from plants with the freedom to develop and express their own ideas too. With the Talking heads discussion starter, students can work with a partner or in a small group to decide which of the talking heads they support or oppose. Students can then articulate their own conclusions and support them with reasoned arguments. The Scaffolded evaluation and structure strips activity encourages students to evaluate a question. They can plan their answer by extracting information from the Excerpts document before using a structure strip to scaffold their long written answer. 

Use these resources alongside the Education in Chemistry article How to dissolve a tree.