Corn Plastic

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If you have been on a Minnesota road trip in the past few weeks, chances are you have seen CORN growing in fields across our great state! Corn is an extremely important crop, finding its way into thousands of human food products, feed for livestock animals and also ethanol fuel. Another use for products from this valuable plant is biodegradable plastic. Follow this recipe to create your own environmentally friendly plastic from corn products.

Materials

  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 drops corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Zip-lock sandwich bag
  • Microwave

Procedure

  1. Pour corn starch into zip-lock bag.
  2. Add 2 drops of corn oil to the starch in the zip-lock bag
  3. Pour water into zip-lock bag
  4. Seal bag and mix the corn starch, oil and water using your fingers on the outside of the ziplock bag.
  5. Unseal the bag and heat on HIGH in a microwave for 20-25 seconds. MAKE SURE THE BAG IS NOT SEALED IN THE MICROWAVE.
  6. Let the bag and its contents cool for 1-3 minutes.
  7. Remove the bag and observe (look, touch, smell, and even taste) the biodegradable plastic you have made from corn products.

Discussion Questions

  • What does the plastic look like? Feel like? Smell like? What does it taste like? (The plastic is edible but it might not have a very tasty flavor!)
  • What could you make with this biodegradable corn plastic? Remember it is biodegradable so it will dissolve eventually.
  • Compare the corn plastic you made to the plastic that the ziplock bag is made from.
  • What challenges and benefits are there to making plastic from corn instead of oil-based materials?

Additional Activities

  • Visit the Smithsonian website and read their article about the benefits and challenges of corn plastic.
  • Complete an investigation that compares the different uses and types of corn – field corn, sweet corn, pop corn.

For further information about the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom program visit www.mda.state.mn.us/maitc or contact Al Withers, Program Director at alan.withers@state.mn.us or Sue Knott, Education Specialist at sue.knott@state.mn.us.

This entry was posted in Fun Activities, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, MN Ag in the Classroom. Bookmark the permalink.

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