At the K 2016, the world’s largest plastics tradeshow, PlasticsEurope and the British Plastics Federation (BPF) launched an educational toolkit. This initiative is designed to engage younger children with polymer science through a series of experiments that allow them to explore the wide variety of properties and applications plastics have.

The toolkit contains a series of experiments, a booklet for children explaining how plastics are formed and how to conduct the experiments, and a teachers’ guide. The booklet features a character named Olly, who is based on Kuno – the star of a German educational toolkit developed by PlasticsEurope which has, since its launch in 2001, been translated into Italian and Polish. Olly is designed to engage pupils aged between six and ten, promoting science through five fun experiments. The experiments highlight the importance of plastics and demonstrate the wide variety of properties that make them indispensable in so many applications.

BPF Director General Philip Law said: 
Children are not just the employees of the future but consumers too, so it’s really important that they develop an appreciation of plastics from a young age. The plastics industry suffers from a severe skills shortage and part of the way this can be remedied is by engaging the younger generation with the wonderful world of polymer science. The scheme we are mirroring has been running in Germany since 2001 and has enjoyed great success, and we are pleased to be working with PlasticsEurope to help educate younger children in the UK about the importance of plastics, as well as the fun they can have experimenting with them.

The BPF will be launching a ‘polymer ambassador scheme’ later this year, which will involve members volunteering to travel to schools in the UK to present the experiments and help educate the younger generation about the important role plastics play in all our lives. The ambassadors will be able to draw upon the BPF’s recently launched PolymerZone website (, which includes a wealth of educational material about plastics that can be used to complement and expand upon the information included in the toolbox.

Kim Christiansen, PlasticsEurope’s Regional Director North Region, explains: 
This plastics industry initiative provides a valuable teaching resource in English that through a fruitful cooperation with the BPF will see ambassadors from the plastics industry taking this to schools throughout the UK. The plastics industry heavily depends on a skilled workforce. It is in our own best interest to ensure that future generations embrace science and train in STEM subjects to provide the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.”

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