During the Polymer Project, I’ve made a total of five prototypes, each with its own properties. The first one failed, because we combined gloop and superslime, but the two polymers don’t mix at all. The polymer ended up being bouncy, but it breaks extremely easily. The second one was bouncy. It didn’t stick to your hand, but on a flat surface, it would stay in shape. It broke easily, which wasn’t good, but it was reformable which was a major property our project needed. The third prototype was kind of reformable. and it didn’t stick to your fingers. However, it was not smooth at all, and extremely slimy. The texture ended up being very weird and uncomfortable to hold. The fourth was reformable, non-sticky, kind-of smooth and slimy, so it met all of our standards. It felt soft and squishy. The fifth prototype was reformable and didn’t stick to your finger, but it wasn’t that smooth and was quite slimy. The texture ended up being hard.
The best prototype for meeting our goal of making a bike grip softer and squishier was prototype 4. It was the most reformable, which means it will sink down if you press your fingers on it, but it will always bounce back to shape after a while. This is good because this means multiple people can use it at once. It wasn’t sticky, so when you remove your hands from the polymer, the polymer stays on the grip in one piece. It wasn’t completely smooth, but we realized none of the polymers were, so it didn’t matter that much. It also had a very nice texture – not too slimy or sticky, which made it very easy to squish and grip.
What I learned during this project was to use time more effectively, and rather then using the same recipe over and over again, only changing one tiny detail, I should’ve varied my ingredients more. This would’ve let me know what each type of polymer I designed did, and it would take a shorter time to design an actual polymer that fitted our needs. This would’ve saved our time by a lot. Thankfully, I learned to be braver and change more things in about the middle of the project, so I didn’t waste that much time.
Interviewee: 9th grader
Interviewer: Jane (me)
We changed our project from a reformable bike seat to bike handles, because making a bike seat wastes a lot of materials, and different people like different seats. The polymer needs to be soft, reformable, and quite solid. Our polymer needs to be soft enough to grip. The entire reason we’re doing this idea is because we think bike seats and handles are too hard and uncomfortable, so that is definitely one of the things we need. Also, it needs to be reformable, meaning it bounces back after we apply pressure on it. If the polymer molds the shape of you and hardens, it will be uncomfortable because it’s hard to get back into that exact same position. It also needs to be solid, which means it can not randomly drip off the side and will generally stay in the shape we leave it in.
I develop my prototypes by looking at the four main bases we’ve used before, and the chart that states the characteristics of each material. I thought gloop would be our best bet at making a grip/seat. It’s not too slimy, and not too hard. It’s the closest of the four textures to a comfortable grip. I absolutely love adding cornstarch to things because it turns substances from sticky and slimy to having the same bounciness but more thick. This helps our project tremendous amounts. I found out that glue is very sticky and unnecessary for our project, so I reduced the amount by half. I slowly played around with it, until I got to prototype 4, which is basically what I want, but still a bit too sticky, so I’ll have to change that.
Testing my product is quite easy, actually. To test for its softness, I wrapped my hand around it and saw whether or not it was easy to squeeze. This represents when it’s on the bike and we have to sit on it and hold it. If it’s too easy or hard to squeeze, chances are, on the bike handle it will will be too soft or hard. To test it’s reformability, I did the slow poke test to see if the polymer bounced back up. This property is actually based off of memory foam, which is a type of foam used in shoes to make it softer. It’s meant to be soft but also maintaining it’s original shape. To test for its solidity, I put it down on a paper plate for a period of time to see if it expands. This is actually hard to meet, because slime in general want to sink down. I decided that if I try a lot but still can’t find something that is generally solid, I’m going to alter it or completely get rid of that property.
My group’s polymer project will be a customizable bicycle seat. A lot of people have trouble adjusting to the seats our bikes come with, because they are hard and uncomfortable. Anyone with this problem can use our product. What you have to do is put a pretty thick layer of this polymer over your seat, and sit on it for a minute. Your body’s shape will be molded into the seat, so it will no longer feel uncomfortable and weird. Then, maybe you could put a layer of plastic wrap or something with the same basic components (so it’s thin, stretchable, etc) over the seat so it will be shielded against dirt and rain. Our polymer base will probably be stretch-tastic slime, because it is the only one that molds according to its environment. We have to change it a bit, though, because on the bikes it can’t be too slimy or sticky anything. I understand there are many bike seats that can be attached to your bike to suit your needs, but none of them are customized and will mold to your body.
Numbers of people can relate to the issue at hand, one being my very own mother.
ME: Why do you think your bike seat is uncomfortable?
Mom: It’s too hard, and the front of the seat is very sharp.
ME: How do you think this can be improved on?
Mom: Make the seat softer, thicker, and longer.
ME: Do you think having a customized seat by molding some polymers is going to help?
Mom: Yes! I think this will definitely help the problem!
As you can see from the interview above, my mom is a potential client and supports our project a lot.
A polymer is many similar molecules (or monomers) bonded together. Polymers are made of synthetic materials, which are based off of natural resources. Natural resources are just like it sounds – a resource you can find in nature, or a resource made from elements of our world, for example minerals, water, plants, rubber, etc. Synthetic materials are something made chemically to forge a natural resource and make it better. A synthetic material is meant to meet your needs, so it’s easier and more convenient for you to use. If you want a waterproof material but you only have a normal, not waterproof material, you can synthesize it to make it meet your demands. For example, spandex is a type of synthetic material. Spandex was originally based off of natural rubber, but rubber isn’t that stretchy, so people have altered it and changed it to the spandex we use. In our world today, many people wear spandex shorts for sports, especially volleyball, or under dresses. Nylon is another example. It’s based off of silk and used to replace silk because it’s quite expensive. Nylon is used to make clothes or tires or packaging for food (because some nylon can block out oxygen and other gases so the food won’t be contaminated). Synthetic materials are made from natural resources that go through chemical change. The chemical changes are usually because of catalysts that will help the natural resource react.