Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
This post is written by Derek Gallo, a junior at XXX High School. He is one of the Boeing Scholars. His team STEM Ed(you)cation is working on science outreach, through a family science night at Darwin Elementary School.
Making slime is a perfect entrance into the world of polymers. Just a little bit of glue, water, and borax, and you are off to the races!
Note: Using a liter of water for the PVA solution will make enough slime to serve 20 people. The slime can last for weeks in the refrigerator, but may mold after a week if left in the open. The slime can be easily washed from clothes with warm water and detergent.
Slime is simple polymer chemistry. It’s a perfect example of cross-linked polymers. Polyvinyl Alcohol is a long polymer chain of repeating units with an alcohol functional group. Before they get linked in a polymer, the single units are called monomers. They are small and can slide past each other really easily like a bunch of beads in a bowl. But polymers are long and bulky and can move past each other. They borax contains a cross-linking agent that starts the polymerization reaction.
Long chain polymers are used in synthetic fabric, plastic, nylon, etc. So next time you put on a T-shirt or use a Tupperware you are using long chain polymers of repeating carbon bonds.
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