Academic Year 10

GCSE Chemists investigate the properties of materials by experimenting with polymers.

In a Chemistry lesson this week, Year 10 students seized the opportunity to make bespoke bouncy balls using little more than water, PVA glue, custard powder and a bit of elbow grease.

Mr George introduced his class to polymers (large molecules strung together) by first likening them to spaghetti. Both are made up of long chains with no real bonds. Just as a spaghetti strand can be separated from another and bent and moulded individually, so can a polymer as there is no real bond between the chains.

To put this to the test, the students embarked on a practical test to see for themselves how polymers behave when they are linked together.

First, they mixed PVA glue with water and custard powder to produce a semi-liquid solid. The subsequent addition of Borax then bound these polymer chains together. By stirring the mixture until it stiffened, moulding it into a ball and kneading it until it became drier and rubbery, the girls got to the point of being able to bounce their very own custard ball!

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