As we finish up the unit on polymers there are two important points to remember.
- Polymers are a result of long chains of patterns.
- Polymers consist of two states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, or plasma).
The students have discovered that the patterns are all around the classroom. They are not limited to beads or shapes or even colors.
Understanding how this is important to polymers may be a concept they do not totally grasp, but exposure to the science will be helpful later in life. Allowing them to explore with color and light will give their minds two more ways to remember the experience.
At the Light Table are bottles with flower beads that we watched grow. Food coloring was added to the water to see if the beads would change (drain the water and seal lids with tape). Translucent papers reflect even more colors and we recorded what the students observed.
Most things around us are called a solid, liquid, gas, or even plasma. When things exhibit properties of more than one of these they are called polymers. They exist in a kind of in-between state. You can help children see this by creating a polymer using liquid starch, white glue, and water. Call it gak, goop, or slime, they will learn an important science lesson about the states of matter.
1 part water
1 part white craft glue (like Elmer’s glue)
1 part liquid starch (used for clothes)
Food coloring (optional)
Pour the glue into the mixing bowl.
Add the water to the mixing bowl with the glue.
Stir the glue and water together.
Add and stir in about 6 drops of food coloring.
Now add the liquid starch and stir it in.
It should be nice and gooey by now. It becomes stretchy and easier to hold as it is kneaded.
Store it in a zip bag when you are not using it.
Glue is already a polymer. The tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When liquid starch is added, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, giving it its slimy feel. The new form can be drizzled, stretched or broken.
The season is a good time to introduce longer patterns. It can be a part of the holiday activities or you can choose any shape. Patterns can be short like on the front of a card. The Sticky Board is set up with colored squares and hearts in pink and red. Talk to the students about their creations and what they are doing. If they say cards, take dictation about why they are making the cards and who they would send them to. If possible, take a snapshot of the board before another student uses it.
Patterns can be long like necklaces. In molecules long patterns are sometimes called polymers. Examples of polymers around us are rubber, silk, wool, and plastic. Cards with premade patterns are fun to match. Blank cards help children be creative. Encourage the students to make their own patterns.
These cards are not limited to this season either. Change the shapes or colors. Use foam from the craft store to make the shapes. The students enjoy this activity and it is an important concept for learning in math.