Teacher Notes for Level 1

Introduction: Objective:
  • We suggest using this unit to teach scientific method, observation, comparison, and measurement skills with a systematic and scientific approach.
  • In this activity your students can use household items such as glue and borax to create fun polymer balls.
  • Students can observe properties and make comparisons such as which ball bounces higher, which one has a smoother texture, which one squishes easier, etc.  This activity can also be used to teach/reinforce diameter, radius, and circumference of a sphere.
  • Borax can usually be found with laundry products, though it is not available at all stores.
  • The liquid latex is often used to make molds for craft projects and can be found at a craft or hobby store.
  • If you choose to make the latex and vinegar ball with your students, be sure to mix in a well-ventilated area or outside.  The latex has strong fumes!
  • Wearing rubber gloves provides an added safety measure that can eliminate any possible skin irritation from prolonged contact with the ammonia preservative in the liquid latex.
  • All materials used in this lab can be washed off the hands or clothes with soap and water.
  • If any chemical is splashed into eyes, rinse with lots of water immediately.
  • The instructions for making each ball can be found by clicking in the box beneath the name of the ball you wish to create.
  • A printable page of this activity is available by clicking on "Printable Version" at the bottom of the Level 1 Page.
  • The instructions for making each ball can also be printed by clicking on the instructions and then clicking the print button in the pop-up box.
  • You may choose to make the latex and vinegar ball (Ball #3) as a teacher demo, especially for younger students.
  • After the creation of your bouncy balls, they must be sealed in a plastic bag to prevent drying.
  • The radius of the ball can be found by placing the ball on the ruler to determine its diameter (width), which can then be halved to find the radius.  Next, students can use a piece of string wrapped around the middle of the ball to measure the circumference.  Then use the C=2pr formula (where r is the radius that was just calculated) to compute the circumference and compare that answer to the string measurement.
Suggestions for Assessment:
  • An on-line computer quiz with instant feedback is available in this section.  A printable version is also available.  Click here for answers.
  • You may want to have students write or tell the class one thing/one paragraph/one page (depending on grade level) about what they have learned from this experiment.
  • A teacher-created worksheet could also be helpful and more directly meet the level and needs of your class.
Enrichment Activities:
  • The activities found at the bottom of the page are links to some more information and activities involving polymers.  These links will take you off our page to other pages on The Polymer Science Learning Center site.

Teacher Page Level 1 Page Main Page