Makers LOVE polymers. Actually, makers have a lot of polymers in them and on them. DNA, protein, snot, clothing fibers, string cheese, DVDs, and 3D plastic filament are all fibrous polymers.
Our STEM4Makers program launched May 31st with a maker workshop on polymers and plastics to spotlight these beefy molecules. The STEM4Makers workshops will focus on connecting the maker mindset of exploration and inspiration to the science classroom.
The workshop first started with biology, moved on to the periodic table, and then tied in technology, application and use.
The team of mini makers made a slushy loose polymer using sodium polyacrylate, which they extracted from baby diapers. This material is used commercially by a company called Mr. Thirsty to suck up water in homes that are flooded. The kids also made a less viscous polymer using polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which is found in school glue.
The class then made milk bioplastic. Pictures were displayed showing how the resulting bioplastic could be used to create useful items, such as belt buckles and plates. Their final activity was to make a molecular model of their own polymer or plastic. This was intended to solidify the classroom science concepts: mer-to-poly-to-cross-linking.
Science requires good note taking!
Who knows, with a little making these kids could grow up to be the polymer engineer who uses 3D printing to make bionic ears, exoskeletons, or great art!
Organizers hope to lead a follow-on class focusing on how polymers can be used to solve problems encountered in common projects at Nova Labs.
Thank You to Our Mentors!
As an all-volunteer program, STEM4Makers relies on volunteer mentors like YOU! Helpers are needed during the 2 hour workshops and for planned after school programs. Please subscribe to our kids listserv or email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.