Girls' Day: Experiencing plastics interactively

What exactly do we mean by the term plastics, what properties do they have and what does a plastics engineer do? These and many other questions were answered at this year's "Girls' Day" workshop at IKV on 22 April 2021.

Test materials for home: At Girls' Day 2021, the participants conducted experiments at home. | Photo: IKV

The nationwide campaign day takes place once a year and aims to interest girls in technical and scientific areas of work and motivate them to take up professions in these fields.

The IKV workshop entitled "The colourful world of plastics", which this year was organised as a digital event due to the Corona pandemic, met with great interest in advance and was fully booked within a very short time. To retain the practical and exchange-oriented character of the event in digital format, IKV staff member and organiser Judith Weber, M.Sc., relied on interactive elements: A quiz with various knowledge and estimation questions, for example "How much plastic do we use every day in the EU?", opened the event. Beforehand, the 14 participating girls had already received a package of test materials, including plastic samples from the Plastics Europe sample collection for school classes, with which the group carried out practical experiments. Under guidance of the IKV scientist the schoolgirls examined the fracture behaviour of different plastics and determined differences in density.

After a short snack break (the package contained chocolate bars with compostable PLA packaging for refreshment), the group continued with the processing methods of extrusion, injection moulding and autoclave production of CFRP, each of which was vividly explained in short videos. As an example of an injection moulded component and a souvenir of their participation in the Girls' Day 2021, the girls received an RWTH ice cube tray.

Afterwards, the group took up the current and controversially discussed topic of "Plastics and the Environment" and focused in particular on the aspects of microplastics and CO2 emissions. Together with the participants, Judith Weber discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using plastics and showed sustainable ways of using plastics. Finally, together with Pia Wagner, M.Sc., who also works as a research assistant at IKV, she answered the girls' questions about engineering as a career and studying at RWTH in an open "Ask me anything" round.

Contact for questions

Judith Weber, M.Sc.
+49 241 80-93818