The STEM Way

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The STEM Way

How is Plastic made?

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Plastic is a very unique material that has been created by humans.  Materials like wood, paper, metal are found in nature but plastic is not found in nature, but is man-made.

How is plastic made?

Plastic is made  from chemicals found in crude oil .

Wait, what is crude oil?

Crude oil is found deep under the earth. It is a smelly, yellow-to-black liquid that is  formed from the remains of animals and plants that lived years and years ago. Over the years, the remains were covered by layers of mud.  Heat and pressure from these layers turn the remains into crude oil. We dig deep to extract and use this crude oil.

Crude oil is also used to make petroleum and other fuels for vehicles!

STEPS to making plastic:

  • The oil is heated to a very high temperature
  • Oil and gas molecules are bonded together to form polymers which is raw plastic.
  • More chemicals are added to make this plastic hard
  • Coloring is added to dye the plastic to a required color.
  • The raw plastic is poured into a mould that is in the shape of the final product.
  • When the plastic cools down it is in the shape of the finished product!

Image result for plastic factory


Advantages of using plastic 

  • Plastic can be formed into any almost shape!
  • They are light but very strong.
  • They are safe to use because unlike glass they cannot break and hurt us.
  • Plastic is economical and is cheaper than wood, metal or glass,

 Kevlar is a lightweight but amazingly strong (stronger than steel!) plastic. It is used to make body armour to protect the  police and soldiers,

Image result for wearing kevlar

Disadvantages of using plastic 


  • Plastics last FOREVER ! They do not rot and cannot be eaten by anything.
  • Many animals mistake some types of plastic for food and eat them and choke on them because they cannot be digested!
  • Some plastics can be recycled but it is non-biodegradable(it does not rot); so they may take more than 200 to 1000 years to decay.
  • Plastic cannot be burned as it releases harmful smoke on burning.
  • Plastic takes up lot space on garbage dumps !


Image result for plastic danger to animals


Plastics are useful to for us but they are very harmful for other animals and the world we live in. We should always Reduce, reuse and recycle plastic and help keep our environment safe!


Test your knowledge on how plastic is made!






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