How to Use the Macrogalleria

The Levels

The Macrogalleria is divided into five levels, as you may have noticed. These are not meant to be skill levels, though some pages are more involved than others. The divisions are simply made based on the nature of the material. Below is a discussion on how to use each level:

Level One: Polymers are Everywhere

The goal of the first level is to show the students where polymers are found in everyday life, and to serve as springboard to lead them to the other levels of the Macrogalleria for a more in depth discussion of polymer topics. To do this, they can stroll through a fictitious shopping mall, visiting whichever stores they like. In each store, merchandise is pointed out which is made of polymers. The text identifies the type of polymer, and will contain hypertext links to pages on level two which describe those specific polymers in detail.

The whole idea of the first level is to present the relevance of polymer chemistry in everyday life, through things which already interest the students. A student who is athletic may go to the sporting goods store and learn about tennis rackets made of carbon fiber while a student who is a music lover may go to the record store and learn about compact discs made of polycarbonate.

Level Two: Polymers Up Close and Personal

The goal of Level Two is to give the students information on specific polymers. The Level Two pages are all marked with blue title graphics. Each page on Level Two is a baseball card of sorts giving all the most important information about a specific polymer, it's uses, and the basics of its synthesis (detailed synthetic chemistry is discussed on the pages of Level Four). Each page contains hypertext links to pages discussing general polymeric concepts which apply to that particular polymer. For example, the page on polyisoprene contains links to Level Three pages which discuss rubber and crosslinking, while the nylon page has links to pages discussing fibers and plastics.

Each page on Level Two also contains a three-dimensional rotatable model of a short chain of the polymer in question. To view the models you must download the Chime plug-in. To do this, either click on the Chime icon located at the top of the first page, right below the title, or just click here.

Due to the limitations of the modeling program, the models have low degrees of polymerization, much lower than the actual polymers. They are intended only to give the student an idea of what a segment of the chain of the polymer looks like. They are not intended to depict long range chain conformations, not are they intended to depict the true size of the polymers.

The models may be rotated by clicking on them with the left mouse button, and dragging the mouse. The models may be altered by clicking on them with the right mouse button. This will produce a menu. By clicking on display another menu will appear which will allow the user to select between wireframe, stick, stick and ball, and spacefilling models.

Level Three: How They Work

The goal of Level Three is to teach the basic concepts of polymer physical chemistry. Every physical chemistry page is marked with a red and yellow title graphic. Each pages deals with a specific general concept, and discusses principles which will be applicable to either all polymers or at least a wide range of related polymers. Each page contains hypertext links to pages dealing with related concepts. For example, the page dealing with rubber will have links to the page dealing with crosslinking, and the page dealing with plastics will have links to pages discussing the glass transition and polymer crystallinity.

In addition to polymer physical chemistry, Level Three contains pages which don't really fit any traditional category. These are pages devoted to things like polymer composite materials, families of polymers (like dienes, vinyls, and acrylates), and inorganic polymers. These "leftover" pages are all marked with blue and yellow title graphics.

Level Four: Makin' Polymers

The goal of Level Four is to provide the student with detailed information concerning the synthetic chemistry of polymers. These synthetic pages are marked with read and black title graphics. Included are pages dealing with reactions which can be used to produce many different polymers, such as free radical vinyl polymerization, as well as reactions for making one specific polymer; for example the page entitled "Making Nylon 6,6". In addition, there are pages dealing with other aspects of making products from polymers, such as the manufacture of composite materials from polymers.

Many of the synthesis pages contain links to pages showing movies of the reaction mechanisms. Viewing these movies requires that you download Macromedia Shockwave The Works. To download this plug-in, either follow the link at the top of the introductory page, or just click here. When you get to the Shockwave page, fill out the form, and on item three on the form, select "other", then click on the "get Shockwave" button. Then you will be taken to the proper page to download Shockwave The Works.

Level Five: Getting Polymers to Talk

The fifth level of the Macrogalleria deals with polymer characterization, how polymers are studied. Each page, headed with red, green, and black title graphics, deals with a different technique used to study polymers. Pages deal with techniques for determining things like molecular weight, polymer structure, and thermal properties. Both instrumental and "wet" chemistry techniques are discussed.

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