IndependenceHigh Students Synthesize Polymers
On November 1, 2013 Independence High School students inMrs. Kimberly Boast’s class performed a polymer synthesis experiment with thehelp of D’Andreas Williams, a research associate from Pennington BiomedicalResearch Center and LSU Department of Chemistry. First, Ms. Williamsdemonstrated how to prepare polyurethane foam. She mixed two liquids, polyesterpolyol and diisocyanate, resulting in a polycondensation reaction that yieldedlarge-volume foam which later solidified into solid polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foam is found in many products such as mattress pads andautomobile seats.
This demonstration was followed by preparation of “sillyputty,” another polymer that uses the same chemistry as the formation ofpolyurethane. Students performed the experiment using Elmer’s Glue, Borax watersolution, and food coloring. Students learned about how the Borax water causesa chemical reaction between the glue molecules (polyvinylacetate) and the boraxin order to produce a highly flexible, cross-linked polymer known as “sillyputty.” Students learned that polymers are formed like links in a chain; eachmolecule forms a chemical bond with another molecule and that molecule forms abond with another molecule and this linking continues to create the polymer. Tobetter help students understand the concept, Ms. Williams had students standand link arms to simulate the linking of chemical bonds in the polymersynthesis.