A humble pot of hair gel provided a useful prop for a chemistry lesson with a difference at Glasgow Science Centre during Chemistry Week
A humble pot of hair gel provided a useful prop for a chemistry lesson with a difference at Glasgow Science Centre during Chemistry Week. The lesson formed part of Plants, polymers and Pampers, a schools' extended workshop run by Dr Beth Paschke of Glasgow University's chemistry department in partnership with the science centre.
Students were challenged to uncover the connection between watering plants, hair gel, nappies, in vivo drug delivery and fire fighting. The answer is that they are all applications of hydrogels, which comprise a network of cross-linked polymer chains that are insoluble in water. During the workshop, S5 and S6 chemistry students from Holycross High School investigated the material's remarkable superabsorbent properties. An example of a smart material, hydrogels can be designed to release their load in response to changes of pH, temperature, or the concentration of a metabolite.