Refocusing its efforts on education, the National Plastics Center plans to double its PlastiVan program in the next three years.
The program brings lessons about plastics to about 45,000 pupils annually. NPC President David Hahn believes many more students should participate in the program.
The center's museum currently has vans based at its Leominster, Mass., headquarters and in Detroit and Houston. The vans travel to various locations where certified educators teach children, from kindergarten to high school, about the benefits of plastic. The program focuses on how various plastics differ, how chemists create them and how manufacturers turn them into finished products.
Hahn said the next PlastiVan will be located on the West Coast. It will be set up in the next month or two between San Diego and San Bernadino, Calif.
The museum is trying to change the way donors finance the PlastiVan program.
``In the past we have relied on individual sponsors for one day at a time, but as we expand, we face a tremendous challenge of trying to sell each day,'' Hahn said at MassPlastics 2005, held March 30-31 in Fitchburg. ``We want to shift away from that and get sponsors to pool together to purchase five days' worth.''
Marjorie Weiner, outreach director at the National Plastics Center, said the PlastiVans have been to 40 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Educators gear each program to the sponsor and student age group.
The museum also said it will work with PolymerOhio, a statewide network of polymer-related companies, to bring the PlastiVan to Ohio.