Polymer Play: Making Plastic

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I got the idea of making plastic from one of the Leonardo Da Vinci books.  He was said to have been the inventor of plastic and whilst this is obviously not like the plastic we know and love now, I thought it would be a fun activity for my littles to do.  I am grateful that the success of a science class doesn’t depend upon the result of said science.  In my eyes this was a failure.  The children however, loved it.  A5 in particular spent hours adding to her plastic to make some sort of revolting substance which made me want to heave.  She had great fun though, and this is the point of science for the little ones.

To make ‘plastic’ you need milk, vinegar, a source of heat and you’re away:

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You will need to heat up the milk, I guess I used 1/2 pint but you can use more or less.  Don’t let it boil:

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Once very warm, but not boiling add vinegar.  We dyed ours with red food dye but to be honest the colour didn’t take too well and was a bit surplus to requirement:

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The vinegar will have an affect immediately:

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We had a lettuce spinner colander which we used to strain the mixture but a muslin would have worked better I think as some of the curds fell through the holes:

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Again a muslin cloth would have been useful to be able to squeeze out the excess fluid.  We used our hands and squeezed as much as we could out of curds.  The children then played with it, rolling it, forming it and when they got fed up with it falling apart, they tried to improve its texture by adding all manner of food stuffs from the pantry:

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Were we successful plastic makers?  No.  Did we have lots of fun making lots of mess?  You bet!

Science Sunday   Tot School

12 comments

    1. I was so excited about this activity, because if it had turned out well the older one’s were going to use the plastic as part of their Da Vinci projects. Unfortunately, even though we tried it three times the version I wrote about was the most successful ‘plastic’ we managed to make which was just too crumbly for what I had in mind.

  1. Sometimes they learn the most from the worst mistakes…not to mention that any excuse to see those little ones all dressed up for science, is totally worth it. They are sooooo cute.

    1. I know!! I’m just waiting for them to kick up a fuss about wearing all the garb, but they seem to accept it as part of the science experience, which is good because I do get some gorgeous photos of them!

  2. Now that looks like great fun! They are just the sweetest! Once again, I am amazed by all the activities you come up with for each study. You are such an inspiration to homeschooling moms.

    Have a wonderful evening, Claire.

    P.S. We are at 100 degrees and expecting 101 this week. Uggg. I am ready for autumn. Seeing your children do their activities outside makes me just a wee bit jealous.

  3. I can not believe you are that hot! We are at 30 with a wind (Celsius, which in Fahrenheit is only 86) but we are sweltering. How on earth do you cope with it?

  4. We are using borax this week to make a polymer. It is a really simple experiment which you have probably done already but if not I will put a post together about it later next week:)
    This is a great additional experiment for us to try. Thank you
    #homeedlinkup

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