Science Matters: The Case of Plastics

 Regulator Playing Guide


What Is a Regulator?

In The Case of Plastics the Regulators are representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government agency responsible for developing a regulation that will address the problem of plastic waste in the United States. As a Regulator, you must ensure that the final regulation addresses the problem in a practical, manageable way.

In order to consider as many opinions as possible, the EPA has convened a hearing of plastics experts. During the hearing you will ask questions and gather information to determine what will make the best regulation. Without a clear opinion about what is best, you are ready to be persuaded by the experts.

As one of the decision makers, it is important that you gather as much information as possible throughout the game so you can make well-reasoned judgments and pick the best regulation proposal.

The Role of the Regulator

Hearing Preparation: When you received your role assignment, you were also assigned an interest group. You must become an expert on this interest group. Review their goals and recommendations, read about their positions, and attend their meetings strictly as an observer. Before the Hearing you will meet with the other Regulators to share what you have learned and prepare the questions you will ask.


  • Write two questions you want to ask your assigned interest group during the Hearing.

  • Write a one-page analysis of your assigned group’s main arguments.

Hearing: Your primary goal during the Hearing is to moderate a discussion among the interest groups and to learn as much as possible about all of the groups and their arguments. Begin with the questions in the Student Introduction, asking groups to clarify their responses as necessary. Then proceed to the questions written by you and the other Regulators. Although these questions are directed to specific interest groups, encourage the other groups to respond as well.

Intersession: You will observe the groups as they prepare their proposals. Listen closely to their ideas and prepare questions for the Debate, but do not participate in their discussion.  

Debate: In this final section of the game each group will present its proposal for the regulation, and you will ask questions about each proposed regulation.  When the Debate concludes, you will vote on which proposal to accept for the final regulation. You will also determine which of the five interest groups made the strongest contributions to the winning regulation by ranking them in order. Points will be awarded for the winning regulation and to each interest group based on their ranking.

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