What is That Stuff? An Instant Snow Polymer Lab


Elaine Kotlerby: Elaine Kotler

I created a lab using the Instant Snow Polymer (Sodium Polyacrylate) from Educational Innovations that I use in my 8th grade Physical Science Class as well as Summer School Programs that I teach for grades 4-9.  This lesson incorporates concepts of Conservation of Mass, Properties of Matter, Metric Measurement and Conversion, and Observation Skills.  The lab, as I give it to the students, is listed below.

Each student receives an empty baggie to be used for comparison, a baggie containing 12 grams of Instant Snow Polymer, use of a balance and a graduated cylinder.

I have already explained the Law of Conservation of Mass, and Density (they need to remember that the density of water is 1 g/ml, or look it up) prior to introducing this lab activity.  However, they do not know the terms exothermic, endothermic, hydrophobic or hydrophilic.  My students are allowed to look them up, but unless they make careful observations as they are conducting the experiment, they won’t be able to answer the questions later.

The final question “What is That Stuff?” garners some interesting answers. Some recognize a use for it as snow for ski slopes; others have suggested material for ice packs.  One suggestion was to use the powder to help clean up and absorb spills. Read the rest of this entry »


Bring Some Magic Into Your Classroom!


Ted Beyerby: Ted Beyer

One of my favorite authors, Arthur C. Clark, once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This has been quoted, misquoted and reused for years.  Of course, it’s perfectly true, and magicians have been using science as part of their acts for centuries. Things that we take for granted today were once bleeding edge technology. I remember in high school reading that sometime ‘soon’ (this was more than 30 years ago) there would be TVs that would be so thin that they would hang on the wall like pictures – impossible! A generation before, the concept of television itself was astonishing, and a generation before that, moving pictures of any kind were magical.

As I started to think about this, I suddenly realized that there are many products that we sell here at Educational Innovations that are used – currently – by magicians as ‘tricks’ in their act. Let’s take a look…. Read the rest of this entry »


Back to School Experiments with Sodium Polyacrylate


Tami O'Connorby: Tami O’Connor

Though I am no longer in a traditional classroom, the end of each August still fills me with that feeling of eager anticipation and yes, even a bit of anxiety…. Then I remember, I’m not going to be facing a room filled with bright new faces nor will I need to develop the plethora of creative lesson ideas necessary to engage and stimulate young minds. But still, I enjoy sharing some of the school experiments that my students and I enjoyed.

One school activity I used to teach the scientific method required the use of an old favorite; Sodium Polyacrylate. This is the chemical powder found in disposable baby diapers. I would start my lesson with a 3 Cup Monty game in which I used 3 opaque cups that were identical in every way except that two of the cups were empty and in the third I placed about 3 tablespoons of the water lock powder.

My shtick started with me talking about the importance of observation skills. I would explain the necessity of having a keen eye. Shortly after my speech I would pour about 1/2 of a cup of water into one of the empty cups. While encouraging my students to carefully watch the cup with the water in it, I would move the cups around fairly slowly, knowing they would be able to follow the water filled cup easily, until the three cups ended in a line across my desk. Read the rest of this entry »