High School Programs

Educational Support Programs for Junior High & High Schools

“Wonder of Plastics” Essay Contest

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), with sponsorship from SPE Sections and Divisions, present the 16th annual “Wonders of Plastics” Essay Contest. Open to all junior high and high school students, the essay must be submitted to the local Section, be sponsored by a teacher, and meet certain requirements. The winning entry at the Section level will be published and publicized in the Section newsletter and forwarded to SPE Headquarters for judging at the international level.

Suggested Topics:

  • Plastics in the environment
  • Plastics usefulness in society
  • Creative use of recycled plastics
  • How plastics benefit humankind
  • What plastics has done for me
  • Why the bad reputation of plastics is wrong
  • How plastics improve our lifestyle
  • Advantages of plastics in food packaging

Download Essay Contest Form

Winning “World of Plastics” Essay, Plastics Innovation in Sports

Plastic innovates sports by providing the athlete with more safety materials so the athletes can play their best without having to worry about getting hurt. In addition, plastics benefit the athlete’s performance with drills equipment that helps the athlete improve agility, while also becoming more competitive. Furthermore, plastics have revolutionized sports by making the average fan enjoy the game better by creating comfort in a stadium. Without plastic involved in sports, sports would not be as entertaining, competitive, and comfortable to watch.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3.5 million kids ages fourteen and under are injured each year while playing sports or a recreational activity. (“Preventing Sports Injuries: Kids play it safe with Plastics”). The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented with the help of plastic materials. Plastic is contained in most safety equipment such as helmets, kneepads, mouth guards, and shin guards. To help athlete’s prevent injuries and perform at their best, they depend a lot on safety gear made by a broad mix of tough, cushioning, and high-performance plastics. Extreme athletes, football players, hockey players, and many more athletes depend a lot on helmets because helmets play a major role in preventing a brain injury. Helmets are made with tough, shock- absorbing plastics. All helmets are made with either carbon- fiber- reinforced plastic composites (used to make racing cars), fiberglass, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (same plastic used in LEGO bricks), or aramid fibers depending on the sport. (“Innovations in Plastics Help protect Extreme Sports Athletes”). Helmets also contain a compacted inner layer made with foam plastics such as polystyrene or polypropylene, which provides extra cushioning. In addition, plastics play a crucial role when it comes to extreme athletes needing eye protection. Extreme athletes usually perform at rapid speeds while facing dirt, debris, and inclement weather conditions, so protective eyewear is very significant for many of these sports. Frames for goggles used in most extreme sports typically are made with a lightweight plastic, such as nylon or polyurethane. These types of plastic offer durability and slight flexibility needed to withstand the intensity of the sports. (“Innovations in Plastics Help Protect Extreme Sports Athletes”).

Furthermore, all athletes can benefit from doing agility drills. Agility is defined as the quality of being agile and the power of moving quickly and easily. (“Definition of Agility Training for Agility”). By doing agility drills, an athlete can become quicker and more competitive. Athletes can achieve agility by using equipment that contains plastic such as agility ladders, cones, dot drill mats, plyometric agility hurdles, and plyometric jump boxes. All agility equipment is made from a hardwearing plastic, which is able to stand much use. (“How Plastics Work”). Moreover, sports can be improved with agility drills equipment because these materials help the athlete play the sport more efficiently, and therefore with the help of plastics, athletes
have great tools to help them improve their performance to reach their full potential.

As a final point, fans are a very crucial part to sports because they give the players confidence. It is very important to provide these fans with comfortable seating and accommodations so they can cheer on their sports team in the best way possible. Stadium seating construction and materials have advanced to meet the needs of the fans using them. Stadium seats now utilize the latest in solid no-break plastics and ergonomic design to give people a more comfortable experience. (“Stadium Seating Construction”). Plastic construction makes the stadium seating now more flexible that it’s prior steel construction. (“Stadium Seating Construction”). In addition, modernized stadiums, like the Minnesota Viking’s, have a fixed roof made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a clear plastic material designed to make fans feel as though they are outside, but are not exposed to the weather. (Goessling). Indeed, the water pipes in the stadium are made of plastic and they accommodate fans because with water, fans can go use the bathroom, wash their hands, and enjoy the game in comfort without having to use the bathroom. Moreover, sports are improved by the innovation of plastic materials because fans can now watch the game in a comfortable setting, while giving the players a boost of confidence.”
“In essence, plastic materials have changed the sports world by creating safety materials, drills equipment, and comfort in stadiums. Everything that plastic contributes to ties together to make athletes better. As was previously stated, athletes perform at a higher- playing level without having to worry about getting hurt by using safety equipment that contains plastic. With agility equipment that contains plastic, athletes can improve their performance by becoming more agile. Lastly, with stadium construction, the plastic involved in the seating, roofing, and water pipes gives fans a more comfortable experience at the game. In the end, plastic has innovated sports in a way that can only cause sports to get better.”

Kasey Britt
Mount Gilead