Notes for Parents and Teachers

Special Note for Teachers

The Kids' Macrogalleria were written with middle school students in mind, but younger students and children of all ages will find something fun here! Some of our pages have been adapted from our main site, the Macrogalleria, but many have been created especially for kids.

The Kids' Macrogalleria has five main areas:

You'll find, though, that there are a lot of links between the areas that encourages anyone to start anywhere, then learn as they go. Each floor of the mall has an information booth that links to the "What is a Polymer?" section. Also, when a topic relates directly to a specific activity, you'll see a link to that activity right there with the topic, as well as in the "Things to Do" section.

Our Site Map presents these areas in outline format, listing the links within the pages. A search engine is currently in development.

This page describes the nuts and bolts of what you'll need (e.g., plug-ins) to get the most out of our site. (By the way, many of our links are pop-up windows, so if you've blocked pop-ups, we highly recommend that you un-block them while visiting us. See this page for other hints.)

Here's a page that contains links to all of the animations that we have here on our site.

What is a Polymer?

The "What is a Polymer" section is a great place to start. It covers the basics, from what atoms are to how polymers are put together and why they act the way they do. Some terms that might be new to you are explained here (and also defined in our glossary).

Where are Polymers?

Discover where polymers are by exploring these shops in the Kids' Macrogalleria. Each shop describes the kinds of polymers that are in all sorts of products that are familiar to us (and some that might not be so familiar!). Each of the polymers mentioned leads to a link that gives more info about its structure, properties, how it's used, and other info.

Kinds of Polymers

This section contains four general sections that survey natural and synthetic polymers, and when/why polymers either "bend and stretch" or are "tough and hard." Some of the chemistry of each polymer is described as well as its history, uses, and why each polymer is well-suited for its applications. "Here you can learn about all different kinds of polymers: stretchy like a rubber band, tough like a football, soft like a sweater, silky and strong like a parachute, and even polymers that are bulletproof!!"

Making Stuff

This section explores how to make objects - including fibers, films, coatings, and foams - out of polymers. How a polymer object is made can greatly impact its properties. This section includes some strategies - such as crosslinking, composites, and copolymers - that can make polymers stronger and better (or more flexible, or more durable, or ....), and describes why these work.

Once a fiber or a film, for example, is made, how do we know if it's strong enough or tough enough? Observing and measuring properties challenges students to look closely at materials and objects around them, and describe their properties quantitatively.

Last but not least, the basics of how polymers are made from their raw material - monomers - are described. This section includes some nifty little animated cartoons to show the basic gist of what's happening. By the way, we've worked hard to be technically accurate as well as crystal-clear in our descriptions and animations. When we've presented a model (like a cartoon) that really over-simplifies things, we've added a note to that effect, and often a link for those who would like to learn even more. (More in-depth info, such as detailed descriptions of the chemistry of specific polymerization reactions, can be found at the Macrogalleria.)

Things to Do (Activities)

The Activities section includes explorations and fun experiments that you'll enjoy doing with children. Some of them are computer-based, like Paul Lemur's interactive coloring book and some activity pages that go with it. Many activities are hands-on. Please do read and follow the safety instructions; while the ingredients are non-toxic, even water can be misused! Also, some of the materials may cause stains, so these types of precautions are also included.

Have Fun!

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