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Recycling Plastics by Density—Student Laboratory Kit

By: The Flinn Staff

Item #: AP7103 

Price: $62.87

In Stock.

With the Recycling Plastics by Density Chemistry Laboratory Kit, students determine the densities of “unknown” plastic samples, identify the unknowns, and learn why sorting discarded plastics helps make recycling more effective.

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Product Details

The United States produces almost 100 billion pounds of plastics every year, yet only 4% of this amount is recycled. Recycling plastics is a special challenge because of the variety of plastics in everyday use. In this student lab kit, students investigate the composition and properties of plastics and their recycling codes. Students determine the densities of “unknown” plastic samples, identify the unknowns and learn why sorting and separating discarded plastics helps make recycling more effective. The density range for each type of plastic (PETE, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP and PS) is estimated using a “sink or swim” method in a series of liquids. In order of increasing density, the liquids tested are corn oil, 35% ethyl alcohol, water, 10% sodium chloride solution and glycerin. An excellent critical-thinking exercise, this activity also helps students discover the fascinating uses and applications of polymers, true “giants” among molecules! Includes reproducible student handouts, detailed background information, complete Teacher Notes with sample data and answers to all questions and all necessary chemicals and consumable supplies.

Complete for 30 students working in groups of three.


Materials Included in Kit: 
Corn oil, 500 mL
Ethyl alcohol, anhydrous, specially denatured, 95%, 250 mL
Glycerin, 500 mL
Sodium chloride solution, 10%, 500 mL
Black plastic disc, PVC, 3.187" diameter, 2
Bottle, Boston round, LDPE, 20/410, 4 oz, 2
Culture (petri) dish, 90 x 15 mm, 2
Cup, polypropylene, 4
Dishes, weighing, 1.5 g, 3½" x 3½", 6
HDPE plastic sheet, 4" x 4"
Plastic soda bottle, 1 L

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

Crosscutting Concepts

Scale, proportion, and quantity
Structure and function

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.
MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.