Sciencey Valentine's Day Gift
What’s a fun new way to reuse an old container? Of course – make a cute keychain!
Warning: only under adult supervision.
- used (clean) polystyrene container;
- whiteboard markers;
- letter opener;
- cutting board;
- nail polish;
Cut the lid off of a polystyrene container and draw your shape of choice on it. Cut your shape out, make two holes in it with a letter opener, and color it with whiteboard markers. Put it in the oven at 180 °C (360 ° F) for approximately one minute. It should shrink! Now you can put it on a thread and hang it on your keyring – it makes for a cute keychain! If necessary, coat your new keychain with nail polish.
As polystyrene containers are produced, the structure of the polystyrene is changed significantly. The molecules of the polymer are stretched and arranged randomly within its structure (such structures are referred to as “amorphous”), which is what makes it possible to form large pieces of plastic. Heating polystyrene returns it to its original shape: the elongated polystyrene molecules begin to curl up and assume a coil-like form. As a result, the structure of the plastic becomes more ordered, and its rigidity increases.
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