Thin sheets of polystyrene can be patterned with permanent markers to represent repeating units of the polymer and then shrunk down in size using heat. The shrunken models of the repeating units can be connected with a string and then flipped into positions to demonstrate different types of polymer tacticity.
The differing electrostatic and solubility properties of starch and polystyrene foam packing peanuts are used in various demonstrations to describe aspects of microplastics and their interactions with the environment. Their differing responses to exposure to liquid nitrogen and iodine solutions are also described.
During the last few semesters, a small survey has been deployed at Bradley University where students were to describe and classify items of litter that they found. The purposes of the surveys were to get students thinking about some of the chemical implications of solid waste and give the students some experience with a citizen science project. The most recent iteration of the survey, and some of its results, are described.
The solution to Chemical Mystery #15: The Leaky Cup is shown here.
I’ve always been fascinated by advanced polymeric materials; it’s amazing how materials that are generally considered “plastics” have such stunning properties. I recently watched a couple of movies about Batman and it came out that some of his devices and protections are made of advanced polymers. In particular, the suit is almost entirely made of Kevlar.
What happens if you cool a Scrub Daddy sponge in liquid nitrogen (or dry ice) and subsequently strike it with a hammer? Let's find out!
The science behind the incredibly popular Scrub Daddy sponge is investigated. Part of the appeal of the Scrub Daddy sponge is that it changes from soft to hard depending upon temperature. This allows a single sponge to be transformed into a hard scrubber or soft sponge, depending upon the temperature of water into which it is placed.
Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.
The authors of the recent Journal of Chemical Education article, PolymerDay: Outreach Experiments for High School Students, offer a collection of interactive polymer activities designed to be part of an all-day outreach event for high school students. For teachers that might use the activities on separate occasions and/or as part of their curriculum, the authors recommend an accessible resource to support that work.
This is an ACS Authors' Choice article and is open access to all.
Red dye #40 found in strawberry Kool-Aid and various cloth fibers can be used in a very simple experiment that can teach students about intermolecular forces. A video is included that describes the experiment and analysis of results.