Polymer Chemistry: Week 5

Mar 02, 2011
Perry Local School District 4325 Manchester Avenue, Perry, Ohio 44081

Week 5 of the Science Enrichment Program covered polymer chemistry, the science that deals with the chemical reactions and chemical properties of polymers. The students learned that polymers are chain-like chemical compounds formed by linking together many smaller chemical compounds, monomers, via covalent bonds formed during the chemical reaction known as polymerization. The students learned that several of the chemical compounds we’ve already discussed in our program, e.g. DNA, proteins, and cellulose, are naturally occurring polymers. Additionally, the students learned about the many useful polymers made by chemists, including Styrofoam, nylon, rayon, Teflon and plastics. For the hands-on activities, the students performed two polymerizations of their own. The students prepared bouncing rubber balls and "slime" by linking different types of monomers together to form polymers with distinct physical properties. These experiments demonstrated the various types of materials that can be made via polymerization. The students also demonstrated the water-absorbent properties of a polymer typically used in diapers by making their own instant "snow". This polymer increased to many times its original volume by simply adding water.

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