*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
In this project you'll make a liquid that will contradict your expectations. Hold it loosely in your hand and it will drip off your fingers, but grab it tightly and it will feel solid. Slap a bowl of it with a spoon, and instead of splattering, it solidifies. Do background research on colloids, and be sure you can explain the following terms: colloid, Newtonian fluid, non-Newtonian fluid, thixotropic. (For instructions on how to make it see the link listed under Exploratorium, 1998, in the Resources section, below.) What happens if you put it on a flat surface? Does ooze leak through a small hole in a piece of paper? Are there other examples of non-Newtownian fluids? What do they have in common? How does "ooze" differ from a solution, such as sugar in water? (Exploratorium, 1998; Gardner, 1999, 30)
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If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Materials Scientist and Engineer
What makes it possible to create high-technology objects like computers and sports gear? It's the materials inside those products. Materials scientists and engineers develop materials, like metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites, that other engineers need for their designs. Materials scientists and engineers think atomically (meaning they understand things at the nanoscale level), but they design microscopically (at the level of a microscope), and their materials are used macroscopically (at the level the eye can see). From heat shields in space, prosthetic limbs, semiconductors, and sunscreens to snowboards, race cars, hard drives, and baking dishes, materials scientists and engineers make the materials that make life better.
Chemical engineers solve the problems that affect our everyday lives by applying the principles of chemistry. If you enjoy working in a chemistry laboratory and are interested in developing useful products for people, then a career as a chemical engineer might be in your future.
The role that the chemical technician plays is the backbone of every chemical, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical manufacturing operation. Chemical technicians conduct experiments, record data, and help to implement new processes and procedures in the laboratory. If you enjoy hands-on work, then you might be interested in the career of a chemical technician.
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