Areas of Science Chemistry
Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Safety Adult supervision required for experiments using boiling water.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

Abstract

Some 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)

Bibliography

Goodstein, M., 2004. Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects: Using Hair Gel, Soda Bottles, and Slimy Stuff. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Plastic Deformation: Glass Transition of Some Plastics." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p034/chemistry/plastic-deformation-glass-transition-of-some-plastics. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Plastic Deformation: Glass Transition of Some Plastics. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Chem_p034/chemistry/plastic-deformation-glass-transition-of-some-plastics


Last edit date: 2020-11-20

Experimental Procedure

For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The 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

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Log in to add favorite
Career Profile
Everything in the environment, whether naturally occurring or of human design, is composed of chemicals. Chemists search for and use new knowledge about chemicals to develop new processes or products. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Career Profile
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. 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
Free science fair projects.