Melting "Plastic"

Part of a series of polymer chemistry lessons and experiments under development for Video Science, we offer this particular segment as a “tickler” to encourage students to consider the chemistry and materials science involved in the objects and tools they handle day to day.

Items

Regarding the simple chemistry presented here, the blue “slime” handled here is a polymer, or large molecule built of identical components that are linked together in a chain. A second phase of this activity will entail “linking” the chains to prevent them from sliding over each other (as seen in our footage), “stiffening” the matter into a more viscous form commonly known as “slime”. Adding a 4% solution of sodium borate (made by stirring 4 grams of laundry booster into 96 ml of warm water) will allow the borate ions to “lock” the polyvinyl monomers (chemical chain “links”) into position in a chemical reaction called a cross linkage or cross link polymerization.

Retain samples of each reactant and ask students to compare the properties of the reactants and product in a simple matrix to show, in a structured way, the qualities of each component in this investigation.

Items you’ll need:

  • Butane torch (Click to buy)
  • Heat dish
  • Stand & clamp
  • Sugar cubes

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