In this Activity, students compare polystrene and cornstarch packing materials ("peanuts"). Both are made of polymers, but because of their composition, they behave very differently in various solvents. Students extrapolate how these differences in behavior relate to environmental effects, such as filling landfills with non-biodegradable materials. This Activity illustrates applications of chemistry in the real world. It integrates with units on environmental impact, states of matter, physical and chemical changes, or science process skills. It also correlates with the study of industrial processes in manufacturing.
Perry A. Cook, Sue Hall, and Jill Donahue, J. Chem. Educ. 2003, 80, p1288A.