A polymer is a chemical compound. Polymers are made up of long chains of molecules that are flexible. Plastic is a type of polymer, plastics are bendy and stretchy because of their flexible molecule chain. In this experiment we will observe how polymers behave by looking at a ziploc bag, which is a plastic and a polymer.
- Ziploc Bag
- Several Sharpened Pencils
Fill the ziploc bag half full of water. Zip it closed. Hold a pencil in one hand while you use the other hand to poke the pencil all the way through the ziploc bag – have the pencil go in one side and come all the way out the other side. Repeat with more pencils. Does any water spill out? Do you know why? No water spills out of the holes because ziploc bags are made of a polymer.
When you poke the sharp pencil into the plastic the pencil point slides in between the chain of molecules that make up the polymer. The molecule chains “hug” the pencil, making a seal around the pencil that won’t let the water out. What happens when you pull the pencils out?
Once you figure out how to do this one, try to get someone to stand still while you are holding the bag over their head. Poke the pencils through the bag to get them to trust your science…then pull the pencils out and see what happens! We tried it over the dog’s head. She liked it when the pencils got pulled out – a dog drinking fountain!
Websites, Activities & Printables:
- Steve Spangler Science: Skewer Through a Balloon
- Cool Science Skewer Through a Balloon
- Kitchen Science Balloon Kebab
Science in Context: Polymers is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. The Science in Context database will show you articles, images and videos to help you learn about polymers.
You can also ask a math and science expert for homework help by calling the Ask Rose Homework Hotline. They provide FREE math and science homework help to Indiana students in grades 6-12.
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