Playing with Polymers

Polymer is a material that contains numerous chemically bonded parts forming a unit. Polymer products have various distinct properties.

These substances can be stretched, moulded, or broken depending on their molecular bonds’ strength. It is because of these properties that polymers are employed in making children’s’ toys (Buddies 1). Polymer products can be obtained in several ways both naturally and artificially (Buddies 1). Naturally, polymer is extracted from natural rubber and amber. However, it can be manufactured synthetically. Such synthetic fibres include natural rubber, silk, nylon and plastics (Buddies 1).

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Normally, these polymers exhibit unique physical and chemical properties compared to other chemical compounds. The properties differ from one polymer to another depending on the types and amount of element substances used in the synthesis. Homemade polymers such as silly putty are prepared using water, Elmer’s glue and borax (Buddies 1). These three substances are thoroughly mixed together. Each of these basic ingredients comprises of analogous replicating units. Polyvinyl acetate, which builds Elmer’s glue, comprises of acetates groups in each duplicated units.

On the other hand, Borax comprises of sodium tetra borate, which reacts with acetate groups. The reaction of Borax and Polyvinyl acetate moleculs occurs in the ratio of 1:2 resulting in the bonding of the two molecules. The Polyvinyl molecules are initially cross-linked by Borax molecules. With more linkage, bigger polymer materials result. Similarly with more cross-linking, polymeric substances tends to be more solid like.

During the experiments, the supervisor should ensure that children wear eye-protecting devices and are provided with hand gloves. In addition, they should be provided with various materials such as water, borax, markers, tablespoons, measuring cups, Elmer’s glue, and two jars with lids (Buddies 1). Before the start of the experiment, the supervisor should ensure that all students wear their protective eyewear and gloves. Moreover, the supervisor should be cautious when handling Borax as it can cause irritation to the eyes. First, the children should add 3 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of Elmer’s glue into a glass of water (Buddies 1).

They should then shake the mixture in a firmly closed jar until the mixture is fully diluted and viscous clusters disappear. Afterwards they should mark the jar as “solution 1: 50% glue” (Buddies 1). Secondly, they should add a half-cup of water and a teaspoon of Borax in the second glass jar (Buddies 1). The lid should then be firmly closed and the jar shaken thoroughly until all Borax constituent parrts disappear. Thereafter, the jar should be marked as ‘’ solution 2: 4% borax” (Buddies 1). During this experiment, certain precautions should be observed (Buddies 1).

The experiment produces sticky polymers, which should be prevented from coming into contact with clothes and other materials. Likewise, solution 1 and 2 must not be discharged in drainpipes as they result in the formation of obstructs. They should only be disposed in specific plastic containers.The 3 zip-top stacks should be marked A, B and C (Buddies 1). Later, three spoonfuls of solution 2 should be put in bag A and 2 spoonfuls of each solution are added to the two remaining bags (Buddies 1).

Afterwards, the 3 bags should be closed and squished by hand as this will ensure that the mixture’s ingredients mix completely. The children should then observe what happens in each bag and note the difference in the final polymer materials formed. Subsequently, the mixtures are to be taken out of the bags and their physical characteristics recorded. Students can also alter the physical characteristics of these products by changing the amount of solutions used in the experiments. Finally, after the analysis, it is upon the students to save or dispose their materials.

For later use, the compounds should be returned in their original sealed bags and stored in a fridge (Buddies 2).