Conflicts in Chemistry - The Case of Plastics
The Case of Plastics is a role-playing game created by the Chemical Heritage Foundation that considers the positive, negative, and conflicting perspectives of plastics through a debate of the issues. Students adopt the roles of characters representing positions on all sides of the plastics debate, from activists to manufacturers, and then debate ways that the production, use, and disposal of plastics should or should not be regulated.
The game teaches students to understand multiple perspectives on plastics and to recognize the complex issues facing today’s policy makers. The project also emphasizes the role of history in the formation of policy. By understanding the history of plastics, the changes brought about by plastics, and the historical context for their characters’ positions, students are better able to engage in the contemporary debate.
The Case of Plastics has been developed as a role-playing game for implementation in high-school chemistry classrooms. However, the game can also be implemented in college settings, in high-school social studies classes, and in cross-disciplinary projects or clubs.