With the Seeing Polymers in a New Light Chemistry and Physics Demonstration Kit, discover bright color patterns made when objects composed of polymers are seen between crossed polarizing filters. This is a great applications-oriented demo.
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Discover the bright, rainbow-like color patterns that are created when objects made from polystyrene and other polymers are viewed between crossed polarizing filters. Brightly colored bands of different colors arise due to birefringence, making it possible to “see” areas in the structure of a polymer where the molecules line up in an orderly, crystalline fashion. Crystalline regions may form when a hot polymer is forced through a narrow opening during injection molding or when a polymer is “stressed” by stretching or bending an object. Great applications-oriented demonstration—engineers use this tool to map out stress in plastic models of bridges! All the materials are reusable.
Concepts: Polymers, amorphous versus crystalline structure, polarized light, birefringence.
Time Required: 10 minutes
Materials Provided: Two polarizing filters, polystyrene “jewel” case, polyethylene bags, and craft sticks.
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
Science & Engineering Practices
Developing and using models
Disciplinary Core Ideas
MS-PS4.A: Wave Properties
MS-PS4.B: Electromagnetic Radiation
HS-PS4.A: Wave Properties
Structure and function
MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.