Polymers Teacher Resources

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A polymer investigation is on the horizon and here are four separate learning activities to do the job. The resource provides background information for the teacher and a wonderful analogy to help learners understand polymers and plastics. It also provides four activities each with full instructions, images, discussion, and added information. Kids can make a Borax bouncy ball, investigate sodium alginate and molecular gastronomy, work with recyclable plastics, and play with those super cool diaper hydrogels. No matter how you use this resource, your class will be engaged and learning about polymers!
Introduce polymers to your 4th - 8th graders for the first time. Chemists mix glue with a Borax solution to create a cross-linked polymer and compare its properties to the properties of the original materials. This is a classic activity for teaching polymers to this age group, but the teacher's notes and student activity sheets will really help keep everyone focused.
Students create a polymer using Borax and Elmer's Glue. In this chemistry lesson, students identify monomers made of hydrocarbons and then brainstorm a list of polymers and their uses.
Chemistry classes pretend to be consultants to a grocery story trying to decide what polymer to use for therir new non-paper bags. They prepare tensile bars and use them to test plastic film samples for strength and stretchability. Both plastic and elastomer are examined. Use this lesson as a hands-on investigation of the properties of polymers.
A kaleidoscope is constructed using polarizing polymer paper and then low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, and polypropylene are all melted onto individual glass slides and examined through a microscope. The intent is to choose a material that could be used as a container for beer, keeping oxygen out and carbon dioxide in. The properties of density and crystalline structure are examined in this activity. Student lab sheets are included. 
Learners investigate plastic resins and their uses. In this plastics lesson plan, students describe major plastic resins and what they are used for, they compare and contrast the properties of plastic resins and they list products that different resins become when recycled. Learners conclude their investigation by determining how to separate mixtures of two types of plastics through a recycling program.
After giving basic details about the properties of Carbon, some of the common functional groups and molecules are featured. There are some details about specific functions and impact on the human body. The diagrams are helpful and could be used in any individual lesson on this topic. This presentation is formatted to be printed and has gap filler activities for the students, it would also be a great review starter.
Though this isn't the neatest reproduction of a instructional activity, the exercises in understanding organic molecules are invaluable. In addition to answering questions about the general structure of biomolecules, diagrams displaying a condensation reaction and hydrolysis are provided for learners to assess. You will be happy to add this to your supply of biochemistry assignments.
After giving basic details about the properties of carbon, some of the common functional groups and molecules are featured. There is some information about specific functions and impact on the human body. The diagrams are helpful and could be used in any individual lesson on this topic. This presentation would also be a great review starter.
For this organic chemistry review worksheet, students answer 10 questions about different organic molecules. They draw structures, they name structures, they draw polymers, they identify the type of isomer given molecules are and they identify functional groups.
A nine-page narrative gives you the material needed to teach high schoolers about molecular structure, in particular, that of sugars. You may want to display the accompanying molecule diagrams through a projector to increase understanding. After the lecture, learners go to the lab to calibrate a thermometer and combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, and boiling water to concoct a sweet confection. This is a tasty lesson in thermodynamics or the structure of saccharides.
Students perform a chemical reaction experiment. In this chemical reaction activity, students mix familiar chemicals together to make polymer. Students decide if they made a liquid or a solid. Students then research polymer and share the information with the class.
High schoolers study chiral molecules and why they are important in carbohydrate and protein chemistry. They determine the different biochemical properties of molecules. They watch a teacher lead multimedia presentation and build models before designing a slideshow of their own.
In this naming compounds with functional groups activity, students read about using the IUPAC rules for naming these compounds and they draw structures for 3 -carbon, 2-carbon and 4-carbon molecules and give the names for each.
Turn your class loose to experiment with the different fat content in skim milk, whole milk, half and half, and heavy cream. This is a visually vibrant experiment, as learners drip food coloring on the surface of the products and measure how far it spreads. The procedure was written up by an education student, so it is not refined, but the activity would be useful in a health class when studying fat content in foods or in a biology class when studying hydrophobic molecules or fats.
Ninth graders generate and analyze data to determine which and how much of two polymers best absorb oils, formulate procedure to accurately determine how many times its own weight particular polymer can absorb, and develop understanding of chemical nature and possible applications of various polymers.
Students study carbon molecules and understand their many different shaped structures.  In this chemistry lesson students analyze photos taken of their models.
Students create a polymer ball in the lab. In this chemistry lesson, students identify the different properties of the polymer they created. They explain what type of chemical reaction took place.
Students create a borax solution to process the slime they are creating. With the sheer size of the PVA molecules, students get a real world example of how large organic molecules can become. The see the conductivity, malleability, solubility, hardness, melting point, and boiling point of the substance as they create it. Finally, they explore silly putty's website to get excited about the experiment.
Students explore materials by researching plastic. In this polymers lesson, students identify the many items in their households that utilize plastic and experiment with some of them in class. Students visit a recycling program outside of school or create collages from recycled plastic items.

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