Polymer Sneaker Project

Students in middle school science studied polymers and plastics in the third trimester. They learned about the different types of polymers and how they were made from petroleum. They also investigated the recycling codes on the bottoms of plastic containers. Students then created their own polymers from glue and a Borax solution. They incorporated various additives and determined how these affected the performance of the polymer by performing a variety of tests on each one. As a culmination to this unit, students used their created polymers to design athletic shoes. In groups, they decided what properties they were looking for in their shoe and then used the polymers they had created, or tweaked the recipes to get exactly what they were looking for in a polymer. This project allowed students to discover and experience some of the experimentation and trial and error that is used in the industrial plastic industry. Finally, they created a brand and a design for their shoe and shared them with the class.

The photos show sixth graders working with their recipes and actually placing the polymers in their prototype shoes.

Students planning their polymer recipes.Students test various polymer recipes.A student shaking up his polymer mixture.A student presses her group's polymer into their shoe mold.

 

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