What are polymers and how are they made?
Polymers are large molecules made by bonding (chemically linking) a series of other molecules. The word polymer comes from poly (many) and mer (part) Each of those parts is what scientists call a monomer, mono (one) mer (part). Think of a polymer as a chain, with each link a monomer. Those monomers can be simple (just an atom or two or three), or they might be complicated and ring-shaped, containing a dozen or more atoms. Wool, cotton, and silk are all natural polymer-based materials that have been used since ancient times. Cellulose, which is the main component in wood and paper, is also a natural polymer. Many of the proteins in the human body are polymers too, for example, the keratin in your hair and nails. So what would be an example of a man-made polymer? You can make your own polymers too. For instance, you could have polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) mixed with Borax or laundry starch to create a PVA polymer slime.
What are synthetic materials, and where do they come from?
Synthetic materials are all around us, they are the objects that are made to imitate natural products. A “synthetic” material is one in which the starting substances are chemically changed to produce a material with different characteristics. A common example is plastic. To create it, petroleum is processed and chemically modified to eventually become plastic. The many chemical reactions that are used to change natural resources into synthetic products is called chemical synthesis. Another example of a synthetic polymer would be Nylon. Nylon is the polymer that makes up most of the objects in our lives, your carpet, your clothes, alarm clocks, etc. It is made out of two lard monomer molecules, chemically. Meaning that it is a synthetic material.
Watch this video for more information 🙂
Perkins, Sid. “Explainer: What Are Polymers?” ScienceNewsforStudents, 13 Oct.
Accessed 15 May 2019.
Barker, Lesley. “Where Does Nylon Come From?” Sciencing, 13 Mar. 2018,
sciencing.com/does-nylon-come-4596037.html. Accessed 14 May 2019.