Color and Learn: Polymers

Simple Introduction to Polymers

While slime on its own might seem like just a simple blob of gooey stuff, it’s actually made up of many, many tiny parts. These tiny parts are called atoms, and when they link together those atoms become molecules.

Some molecules, made up of just a few atoms, are special because they can bond to other similar molecules to make a long chain. Scientists call a molecule like this a monomer. And when lots and lots of monomers join together, they become a polymer.

Imagine you have a paperclip. One paperclip by itself would be a monomer, but if you linked together 1,000 paperclips, they’d become a polymer.

Why are Polymers Important?

Polymers are all around us, at all times. There are natural polymers and human-made polymers. Some examples of natural polymers are spider silk (what they use to make webs) and cellulose (the substance that helps give shape to plant cells). Hair, DNA and starch are examples of natural polymers, also.

Human-made polymers include things like plastics, synthetic rubbers and foams (like Styrofoam). Without polymers, our world would not be the same. Polymers are in our bodies, food, clothing, and lots of other things!

Slime is a fun way to introduce young scientists to polymers!

Slime is a fun way to introduce young scientists to polymers!

How Does Slime Fit In?

Slime is made from polymers. By mixing the ingredients together, STEM Club Scientists cause a chemical reaction to happen between the molecules of the glue, baking soda, water and saline solution.

These molecules get tangled, bonding in new, long chains. That’s how slime gets its stretchy, squishy, slimy and goopy texture.

Different combinations of different ingredients make all types of slimes, too. You can have firmer, goopier, stickier or slimier slime depending on what you put in the mix.

If you’d like to experiment with different recipes, we have six variations to choose from in addition to Cloud Slime! Download the bonus slime recipes here, and create your own slime science activity!

Questions to Ask While Playing with Slime

When STEM Club Scientists are playing with slime, it can be helpful to remind them of the millions of bonded molecules they have in their hands and see if any questions might rise that could lead to an experiment or two!

Here are some questions to start your slime investigation:

  • Does the slime feel like a solid or a liquid? Why?

  • What do you think the polymer chains do when you pull the slime?

  • How about when you squish the slime?

  • Can you name some of the physical properties of this polymer? (Is it soft, firm, bouncy, slippery?)

Share Your Science and You Might Win! #brainfueltoys

We hope you enjoy these slime activities as much as we did! We’d love to see your experiments! Ask a parent or guardian to post a photo or video of your slime project to Facebook or Instagram using #brainfueltoys. You’ll be automatically entered in a drawing for a free science toy! We may even share your post with the whole STEM Club!