San Diego — A new brightly illustrated 32-page book encourages young children to think critically and learn how to ask meaningful questions.
The message rings within a plastics industry struggling to communicate its message and address increasingly more complex questions about the uses and reuses of polymers.
Mechanical engineer Eric Larson of San Diego wrote the basic story for "Poly and the Poopy Heads, a Story about Plastics and Recycling," and retired technical industrial designer Hans Koopman of Kamloops, British Columbia, worked on concepts and provided the illustrations. Although in different locations, Larson and Koopman connected while each spent part of his career with DuPont Co.'s engineering polymers business.
The story examines how things are made and potentially recycled and is "intended to teach children the importance of asking questions, especially when rules are being made by poopy heads," the book says.
Larson drew inspiration from the whimsical depictions of Dr. Seuss.
"Hans helped me develop the characters and the plot line, including the Eureka moment," Larson said. "The Eureka moment is not in finding an answer to a problem but in the students realizing they haven't been asking the right questions."
The word "Poly" with one "l" can mean many, and it forms the first two syllables in polygon, Polynesia or polymer, the book explains.
The book has other colorful characters.
"Toss It Tommy and Lazy Larry, both throw everything away, everywhere, and some brainless politicians including Darling Debbie and Smiling Steve," Larson said. "They are the poopy heads. Completely full of themselves."
Students help uncover the truth through Socratic dialogue. In targeting an audience for the book, "the official age range is 4-8, but it's for children of all ages," Larson said.
Larson founded the engineering consulting service Art of Mass Production in 2006 and lectures frequently at Society of Plastics Engineers and other industry events. Elsevier Ltd. of Oxford, England, published Larson's 324-page hardcover "Thermoplastic Material Selection: A Practical Guide" in 2015.
Deep Root Press of San Diego published "Polly and the Poopy Heads," which is available in hardback or E-book formats for $8.95 through Amazon.com.