Plastic Deformation: Glass Transition of Some Plastics *
|Time Required||Average (6-10 days)|
|Safety||Adult supervision required for experiments using boiling water.|
AbstractSome plastics undergo an unusual transition, from a hard, glassy state to a soft, rubbery state, with increased temperature. For this project, you should do background research on the effects of temperature on different types of plastics. Make sure that you understand the difference between thermosetting and thermoplastic polymers. You should also look for information on the glass transition temperature (Tg) for different plastics. Pure polyvinyl acetate has a Tg of 28 C (about 82 F). You can make a sample of this polymer by pouring some Elmer's Glue-All into a plastic bowl or plate and allowing it to evaporate for several days. Cut strips of the resulting material for your experiments. Try dipping the strip into warm water and immediately wrap it around a pen or pencil to make a spiral. Dip it in ice water. Describe the properties of the polymer at the two temperatures. What happens if the spiral is reheated? Additives in the glue may shift the Tg away from that of pure polyvinyl acetate. Use water heated to different temperatures to determine the Tg for your polymer. Other plastics, such as polystyrene (recycling code #6), have higher Tg's. With an adult's help, you can investigate these materials using boiling water. (To raise the temperature of boiling water slightly higher, add a few tablespoons of salt. Search on "colligative properties" to find out how this works.) (Goodstein, 2004, 105-109)
Cite This Page
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
BibliographyGoodstein, M., 2004. Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects: Using Hair Gel, Soda Bottles, and Slimy Stuff. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.
News Feed on This Topic
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Materials Scientist and EngineerWhat 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. Read more
Chemical EngineerChemical 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. Read more
Chemical TechnicianThe 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. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity