Get Slimy with GWISE!

By: Caitlyn Cardetti 

We had a great time showing kids and adults how to make slime this past weekend at Stony Brook University’s CommUniversity Day! We chose to do slime because… who doesn’t love slime?! It’s appropriate for essentially all ages and we thought teaching our community about polymers really unites the science of all our members – chemistry, physics, biology, engineering and (a bit of a stretch but) psychology too. Well, psychology in the sense that slime doubles really well as a stress ball, the clean up maybe not so much…

What is a polymer? A polymer is a chemical compound formed from long chains of the same molecule group – these chains repeat over and over.

So can you name off polymers you find around you everyday?

Did you know that there are a lot of awesome women who do great work with polymers? Here are a few we decided to showcase, let’s start with my favorite:

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who helped discover the structure of DNA. Did you know DNA is a polymer?

Patsy O’Connell Sherman (1930 – 2008) an American Chemist and co-inventor of Scotchgard, which is, you guessed it, a polymer.

Eugenia Kumacheva, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Functional Materials. She is currently a tier 1 Canadian researcher in advanced polymer materials and also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Royal Society (UK).

Uma Chowdhry, an American chemist known for her work at Dupont on ceramic superconducting materials. She received her B.S. in Physics at Mumbai University and earned her M.S. at CalTech in 1970 and her Ph.D. in Material Sciences at MIT in 1976 (note: women were not often admitted to universities in the ‘70s and Caltech did not admit any female undergraduates until 1970!). In 2011, she received the Industrial Research Institute Medal and Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management from the American Chemical Society.

Slime Recipe 
Mix 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon glue in a sandwich bag. Add food coloring if desired. Follow up with 1 tablespoon borax solution, seal bag and thoroughly mix ingredients – you will feel the texture change from liquid to slime. It will initially be sticky when you first take it out of the bag but that will go away and with time the slime will be more putty-like. Store it in the bag when not in use. 
How this works: The glue has an ingredient called polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which is a liquid polymer. The borax links the PVA molecules to each other creating one big flexible polymer.


Author: sbugwise

We are the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering group at Stony Brook University and we are dedicated to supporting women in STEM fields.

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