During the 2014-2015 school year, we were able to start an “Explore Polymer Science” outreach program to educate high school and middle school students about polymers and their function and importance in the world around us. Our first school visits were to 3 middle schools within the Detroit area (Mackenzie Elementary/ Middle School, Nichols Elementary/ Middle School, and Henderson Academy). Our presentation by University of Michigan graduate students included a 30 minute presentation on the basics of polymers and chemistry, how plastics can be manufactured into products such as clothing, and on the importance of recycling. Built into this presentation are hands-on activities that allowed the students to learn how to classify polymers and examples of how they can be manipulated to make them weaker or stronger. Finally, the students were able to make their own polymer, also known as Gak! The students were excited, participated, and asked great questions. We hope to continue educating more students about polymers and why we love them so much!

Rosy Cersonsky leads an activity at Henderson Academy.
Students show their answer choice during polymer identification activity.
Students show off their new polymers (Gak)!