5 Creative Ways to Teach Synthetic Polymers Without Lecturing

Akanksha Saxena

Often we wonder about the incredible materials that shape our modern world, these are nothing else but synthetic polymers! Synthetic polymers are fascinating materials. They are made up of long chains of repeating molecular units (called monomers). They are meticulously engineered to possess a wide array of remarkable properties. The beauty of synthetic polymers lies in their versatility and adaptability. They can be tailored to exhibit specific characteristics like strength, flexibility, and heat resistance, making them invaluable in various industries.

From the packaging that protects our goods to the clothes we wear and the technological advancements we rely on, synthetic polymers have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Educators associate paramount importance with this topic as it is connected to majorly all aspects of human life at the current date. But teaching the science behind this topic can be tricky. So, we enlist 5 creative ways to simplify this task.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

Educators can effectively teach students and young learners about the subject of synthetic biology by utilizing different types of interactive models and simulations. These engaging tools allow for a hands-on approach to learning, making complex concepts more accessible and memorable. For example, a virtual simulation like the one provided by Labster demonstrates the step-by-step process of synthetic polymer production, showcasing how monomers are assembled to create synthetic polymers with specific structures and properties. Additionally, interactive models can illustrate the environmental impact of synthetic polymers, highlighting their persistence in the environment and the importance of responsible usage and disposal. Overall, educators can create an immersive learning experience that promotes understanding and awareness of synthetic polymers.   

Preview of Polymer chains simulation.

2. Learning with Games and Activities

Integrating games and activities into the teaching process offers a multitude of benefits when educating students and young learners about synthetic polymers. To list a few:

  • Make learning enjoyable 
  • Active participation ensures more information retention
  • Scope to experiment, explore, and discover
  • Enhancement of comprehension and critical thinking skills

Educators can rely on the Synthetic Polymer Simulation provided by Labster. With this gamified simulation, students can assemble polymers, match structures to applications, and test longevity. Through gameplay, students will actively engage with the subject, reinforcing knowledge, and gaining insights into the properties, applications, and environmental impacts of synthetic polymers.

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

Educators can simplify the science behind synthetic polymers by integrating the power of games and user-based activities. Digital tools possess a unique quality to provide interactive and immersive experiences like virtual reality (VR) which can be employed to take students on a virtual tour of polymer laboratories, allowing them to observe the formation process and explore polymer structures in a three-dimensional environment. Similarly, online simulations and interactive apps can enable students to manipulate and analyze polymer models, deepening their understanding of their properties and structures. Additionally, online research resources and databases can also be utilized to access information about the environmental impact of synthetic polymers, fostering awareness and encouraging responsible usage.  

Preview of Match polymeric structures 2 simulation.

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

Educators can emphasize the importance of learning this topic for career goals. Synthetic polymer knowledge is relevant for a wide range of careers. Professionals in fields such as materials science, chemical engineering, polymer research, and product development can utilize their understanding of synthetic polymers to develop new materials, improve manufacturing processes, conduct research, and create innovative products. 

The applications of synthetic polymers span various industries, including healthcare, aerospace, electronics, packaging, textiles, automotive, and construction. As you explain to your students how knowing synthetic polymers can open up opportunities for them to contribute to advancements in these sectors and pursue fulfilling careers in areas related to polymer science and engineering, they will be inspired to learn the intricacies with focus.

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

Educators can also rely on this alternative strategy of associating the topic with its real-world applications for students to recognize its importance. By providing tangible examples, educators can bridge the gap between theory and practicality. For instance, showcasing how synthetic polymers are used in everyday items like water bottles, clothing fibers, food packaging, and electronics helps students understand the relevance and impact of synthetic polymers in their lives. 

Exploring how polymer properties such as flexibility, strength, and thermal resistance contribute to specific applications further deepens their understanding. Additionally, discussing the environmental impact of synthetic polymers and exploring alternatives will encourage students to consider sustainability and responsible material usage.

Final thoughts

Learning about synthetic polymers is vital for students as it enables informed consumer choices, promotes sustainable practices, and provides valuable knowledge and skills relevant to diverse industries, paving the way for future career opportunities.

With such importance associated with this topic, we understand that educators are under a lot of pressure to deliver. That’s where Labster comes in! Labster supports teachers in teaching the topic of synthetic polymers by providing interactive and gamified simulations. With Labster's support, teachers can effectively teach synthetic polymer concepts and inspire students to develop a deeper appreciation for this field of study.

Preview of Match polymeric structures simulation.
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  1. Surendeleg, G., Murwa, V., Yun, H. K., & Kim, Y. S. (2014). The role of gamification in education–a literature review. Contemporary Engineering Sciences, 7(29), 1609-1616.
  2. Alioon, Y., & Delialioğlu, Ö. (2019). The effect of authentic m‐learning activities on student engagement and motivation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(2), 655-668.
  3. Maitz, M. F. (2015). Applications of synthetic polymers in clinical medicine. Biosurface and Biotribology, 1(3), 161-176.

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