Hydrophilic Polymers TV

EI TV - Educational Innovations BlogIf a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is surely worth a few million.  Especially when it comes to scientific explanations, a video is a wonderful tool for conveying information to your students in a visual, easy-to-follow manner.

The videos below offer you and your students a glimpse into the world of hydrophilic polymers—where they are today, what new discoveries we’ve made, and where we are headed in the future.

Enjoy!  If you find a video on hydrophilic polymers that you’d like to share with us, please leave a comment!

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We love this video.  Not only does the presenter explain the science behind sodium polyacrylate, he does it using one of our favorite electrical tools—the FunFlyStick—to illustrate what happens when these long-chain superabsorbent polymers get a negative charge.  (Hint:  they expand!)

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Have you ever heard of fog harvesting?  Namib desert beetles live in an area with little ground water, but these resourceful insects use their wing scales—which are dotted with hydrophilic bumps—to accumulate water droplets from fog.   Researchers are looking to the Namib desert beetle as a model for combating water shortages.

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Your students will surely be inspired by Kiara Nirghin, 11th grade winner of the 2016 Google Science Fair’s Community Impact Award for the Middle East and Africa.  In the first video below, she is shown in her family’s kitchen, explaining her low-cost, biodegradable, super-absorbent polymer made out of orange peels and avocado skins.

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A few years ago, a group of Harvard scientists announced the development of a material that can be “tuned” to repel or attract water.  In other words, it demonstrates “switchable wettability”—it can transform from being hydrophobic (water repelling) to hydrophilic (water loving).  The material changes when it is stretched, but can also be tuned by environmental parameters like temperature, light, chemical signals, or electric fields.  Fascinating!  Read more here.

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