Journal of Clinical Research and Pharmacy

Abstract - Journal of Clinical Research and Pharmacy (2021) Volume 4, Issue 1

Tie-dye! - An engaging activity to introduce polymers and polymerization to beginning chemistry students


Polymers are ubiquitous in modern society. Natural (wool and silk) and synthetic styrofoam and plastic polymers are familiar to people worldwide. Although an estimated 50% of all professional chemists in the USA work in the polymer industry, beginninglevel chemistry textbooks rarely cover polymer chemistry. This scenario represents a missed opportunity to teach polymer chemistry to a larger group of students from a broad range of majors. Given the high attrition as students move through the chemistry curriculum, the small group of students exposed to polymer chemistry in their later years in the university, results in an inadequate population equipped to support the chemical industry. In 1983, the core chemistry committee in general chemistry suggested that polymer related topics be integrated into the beginning chemistry curriculum. The 2015 American Chemical Society (ACS) undergraduate professional education in chemistry guidelines require that exposure to aspects of macromolecular, supramolecular, and nanoscale (MSN) chemistry be included in the undergraduate curriculum. Polymers are perfect candidates for introducing macromolecules. I will present a stand-alone polymer unit that is centered on a tie-dye activity, which engaged the imagination of beginning-level university students. This polymer unit consists of three parts. The first uses molecular model kits to investigate bond formation/ breakage during the polymerization process when the β-D-glucose monomer becomes the cellulose polymer. In the second part, students made tie-dyed t-shirts. The final part uses primary literature to help students investigate the chemical reactions that bind the cellulose fibers to the dye molecules permanently, producing a colorfast, tie-dyed,


Author(s):  Dharshi Bopegedera

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