More than 270 students at Stonington and Westerly High Schools learned all about plastics last week during a visit by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Plastivan™ Outreach Education Program. Sponsored by Davis-Standard, the program introduced students to plastics chemistry, history, manufacturing, sustainability and applications. Students participated in hands-on scientific activities as they learned about the advantages of plastics versus other materials, environmental benefits, and careers in engineering. The program was presented to sophomores, juniors and seniors as well as students in AP freshman chemistry on June 2-4.
“Students in this program leave with a better understanding of how plastic products impact their lives on a daily basis and the many opportunities in engineering and plastics technology,” said Marjorie Weiner, Academic Outreach for the PlastiVan Program. “Students realize that every product has an engineer behind it and most of these products start in an extruder. Since both of these schools are so close to one of the largest extruder manufacturers in the world, Davis-Standard, it ties in nicely with future careers available to them close to home.”
The Plastivan, in its 19th year, educates students of all ages throughout North America by “Driving Opportunities in Plastics Engineering and Technology.” The goal of the program is to increase student knowledge of the contributions of plastics in modern life and promote careers in engineering. Specific material covered with the high school students included how plastics are processed and manufactured; information on designer polymers; applications using super absorbing polymers; cross linking of polymers; how history has impacted engineering and more. Students took part is several activities including learning how to manipulate polymers by putting a kabob skewer through a balloon.
According to Jim Murphy, Davis-Stadard President and CEO, “The Plastivan does an amazing job of showcasing the verstatilty and value of plastics, and potential careers in the industry. The majority of our workforce in Pawcatuck is from the local area, so we want to make sure students realize the many opportunities available to them.” Murphy added, “Whether it’s building the machines that process the materials or being involved on the engineering end, students have a much better understanding of how plastic products are made and future job opportunities.”