Click here to print this page.

Akron Global Polymer Academy Lesson Plans

What is a Polymer?

Grades: Grades 3-8
Author: Sue Blackman, Betsy Hulslander, Diane Pitstick, AGPA Staff
Source: Original


Students will explore polymers in the everyday world. They will use their senses (except taste) to make observations and investigate the properties of polymers.


What should students know as a result of this lesson?

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?




  1. Talk about "polymers" by talking about examples of polymers in everyday life. Ask how many students have seen or touched a polymer today? Write the word polymer on the board or chart paper as a mystery word.
  2. Perform the bead demonstration with the beads flowing out of the container. Discuss how they are a "chain" - like a polymer molecule. (See slide #12 of Multimedia Slide Presentation: Introduction to Polymers)

Assessment: The assessment is informal and can be used to determine misconceptions that the students may have about polymers. Students will most likely be fascinated with the strand of beads.


  1. Divide students into groups of four and have them make observations to explore a number of polymer items, such as plastic containers, plastic film wrap, rubber bands, gum, plastic cups, rubber balls.
  2. Have the students list characteristics of the items on paper having the students compare and contrast these different items.
  3. Assessment: Within each group, have each student discuss with a partner the properties that they observed in the materials. Have each group list the properties on the board.


    1. Have each group report on their observations of the polymer items.
    2. After they discuss the properties they observed, provide an explanation of polymers regarding properties of these materials and molecular structure. The level of explanation will be based on the students' grade level. See the content knowledge section.

    Assessment: Give the students a piece of paper to draw an item that is a polymer and to write a sentence describing why they believe it is a polymer. Have the students share. You can list the items on the board or on chart paper.


    Have a "Polymer Hunt" at school in the classroom, gym, and playground. See how many polymers can be found.

    Make glue putty as a culminating activity. See the AGPA's Polymer Putty Video and Instruction Guide below:

    AGPA Polymer Putty Demonstration: Learn how to create Polymer Putty in this video demonstration.

    And/or watch the Ball Bouncing video below:

    Assessment: Have the students make a list of the polymers they find in their homes.



    Best Teaching Practices

    Alignment with Standards

    NGSS Standards:

    Common Core Standards:

    National Standards:

    Ohio Standards:

    Content Knowledge

    Polymers are long chain molecules that are naturally occurring and man-made (synthetic). They are present in many different forms in our everyday world.

    See the AGPA k-12 outreach website for polymer information. Specifically, Multimedia Slide Presentation: Introduction to Polymers, which has basic polymer info.

    Another useful website is the Macrogalleria -



    Polymers are present in many different forms in our everyday world.


    Ongoing throughout learning cycle

    Other Considerations

    Grouping Suggestions: Groups of 4 with mixed-ability in the groups, chosen by the teacher.

    Pacing/Suggested Time: 3 lessons - about 30-40 minutes per lesson. AGPA Poly Putty can be stored in a plastic bag. If mold begins to grow, throw away and make a new batch.

    Printable PDF Worksheets