Build a lesson around any TED-Ed Animation, TED Talk or YouTube video
Create a Lesson

From DNA to Silly Putty, the diverse world of polymers - Jan Mattingly

  • 134,142 Views
  • 6,401 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

You are made of polymers, and so are trees and telephones and toys. A polymer is a long chain of identical molecules (or monomers) with a range of useful properties, like toughness or stretchiness -- and it turns out, we just can't live without them. Polymers occur both naturally -- our DNA is a polymer -- and synthetically, like plastic, Silly Putty and styrofoam. Jan Mattingly explains how polymers have changed our world.

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jan Mattingly
  • Producer TED-Ed
  • Director Franz Palomares
  • Animation Artist Godfrey Hibbert
  • Narrator Michelle Snow

Share

Additional Resources for you to Explore
Muscle fibers, DNA and plastics are all examples of polymers. Watch this video to learn more.
Check out Macrogalleria, where you can learn all kinds of nifty stuff about polymers and polymer science!
A sustainable polymer is a plastic material that addresses the needs of consumers without damaging our environment, health, and economy. The feedstocks for sustainable plastics are renewable, such as plants. The production of sustainable polymers should use less net water and non-renewable energy, emit less greenhouse gases and have a smaller carbon-footprint than their non-sustainable counterparts, while still being economically viable.
Because everything that we see and use every day is made up of natural or synthetic (man-made) polymers, it’s important to know how they are created, how they can be used, and how they affect our lives. By understanding polymers, you may even think of a new way of making one, a new type of one, or a new way of using one already created to better the lives of those you know and care about.
10B1 give us the lowdown on how different additives affect the properties of polymers. They model the process by playing monomers.
10 Polymer-based Products You Use Every Day
Steve Spangler shares an easy science demonstration to learn the differences between Styrofoam and the more eco-friendly starch-based packaging material.
Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? Just what is this slimy, stringy, rubbery stuff? This variation on slime will probably remind you of a similar substance found in many toy stores. This is the most popular version of "slime" among teachers because it's so easy to make and serves as a great visual tool for introducing students to the properties of polymers.
Check out this site: http://www.thermaldepolymerization.org/
For our purposes, slime will be defined as any non-Newtonian fluid. If this term sounds hopelessly technical, please read on here.
Teded square logo
TED-Ed
Lesson Creator
New York, NY
Thermal depolymerization breaks down the long chain polymers in a material to short chain monomers. This process is quite similar to the natural geological processes that go in the manufacture of fossil fuels.
12/09/2013 • 
 7 Responses
 / 7 Updates

Customize This Lesson

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jan Mattingly
  • Producer TED-Ed
  • Director Franz Palomares
  • Animation Artist Godfrey Hibbert
  • Narrator Michelle Snow

Share

Log In to Take or Create a Lesson

Log In to participate

Please Log In or Register to Apply

Please Log in to Access Leader Resources

If you have already logged into ted.com click Log In to verify your authentication. Click Register if you need to create a free TED-Ed account.
Log In    Register

Enter your name

Your name and responses will be shared with TED Ed.

To track your work across TED-Ed over time, Register or Login instead.