During the first week of school, my chemistry students have been engaged in a Polymer Design Lab. After testing two different polymer recipes, teams of students selected one polymer to work with and brainstormed a consumer product that could be made with the polymer. Students were encouraged to think outside the box and challenged to design a product that consumers have never seen before. As the original polymer recipes were "not quite right", students developed an experiment to enhance a selected physical property. They determined which variable would be changed and also decided what quantitative data to collect. After analyzing the results of their experiment, teams had an opportunity to plan a redesign to perfect their product. At the end of the lab, students presented their results and marketed their consumer product.
One team (pictured) demonstrated how they collected data on their polymer's viscosity by placing each polymer in their experiment in a funnel. They timed how long it took for the polymer to reach the lab counter.