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February 20, 2019

Sticky Business: Explore the Properties of Chewing Gum!

By Michelle Gay

Pair fun nonfiction reading with a hands-on science experiment.

Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Key Takeaways:

    • Hands-on investigations guide students to acquire new information and discover concepts, which promotes scientific thinking.
    • Connecting science to real-life applications like gum allows students to make meaningful connections with challenging concepts, such as chemical and physical properties concepts.
    • Utilizing resources from Scholastic’s SuperScience magazine helps build background knowledge about real world science topics in the classroom.

    Have you ever wondered if chewed-up gum could be recycled? That was the premise of the SuperScience article “Sticky Business.” The topic immediately caught the attention of my third- and fourth-grade gifted students! Here’s how I paired it with a hands-on investigation in my class.

    Students started by reading and discussing the article in small groups. They learned about how Anna Bullus, a designer, came up with a way to make new products from recycled gum. Working with a chemistry lab, Bullus found out that gum is made of edible rubber and that it’s sensitive to temperature.

    Today, her company, Gumdrop, makes recyclable bins where people can deposit used gum. She places these bins in airports, schools and parks in England. She uses this chewed gum to make all kinds of things, from rulers to shoes.

    My students were intrigued when they learned that rulers could be made from nasty gum full of germs. It’s important for students to have background knowledge and understand how science relates to their lives. This article introduced concepts about physical and chemical properties by connecting those ideas to a fun and relatable topic—gum!

    After students read the article, I gave them a stick of gum, and they described all of its physical properties. But I wanted them to explore gum further, so I used a resource called “Stretch Test” on the SuperScience website. This is a hands-on investigation in which students test gum’s elasticity based on temperature.

    First, students chewed two pieces of gum. They placed one in cold water and the other in warm water for two minutes. Then they stretched the gum and made observations. When they compared data, they discovered the gum stretched farther after being in warm water. My students were amazed at how far the gum stretched. They also said it became very sticky.

     

    Teacher Tips for This Lesson:

    • When doing this science experiment, prepare materials ahead of time, perform it in two class periods if possible and have students conduct it individually with guidance.
    • It is important to give students background information on the topic—either before or after the investigation. I explained that the gum’s molecules were closer together after it was in cold water, so it was harder to stretch. Yet they moved apart after being in warm water and were easier to draw out.
    • Tie the investigation to the article by referring to Anna’s discovery that gum elasticity changes in varying temperatures.

    If you’re looking for more ways to connect science concepts to your students’ lives, I highly recommend SuperScience magazine. You can even try it free for 30 days when you place an order for the 2019–2020 school year. I’m sure your students will love all the fascinating articles and team-building activities as much as mine do!

     

     

    Michelle Gay has been an educator for more than 20 years. A lifelong lover of science, she serves as the Gifted Specialist at Foley Elementary School in Foley, Alabama. 

     

    Key Takeaways:

    • Hands-on investigations guide students to acquire new information and discover concepts, which promotes scientific thinking.
    • Connecting science to real-life applications like gum allows students to make meaningful connections with challenging concepts, such as chemical and physical properties concepts.
    • Utilizing resources from Scholastic’s SuperScience magazine helps build background knowledge about real world science topics in the classroom.

    Have you ever wondered if chewed-up gum could be recycled? That was the premise of the SuperScience article “Sticky Business.” The topic immediately caught the attention of my third- and fourth-grade gifted students! Here’s how I paired it with a hands-on investigation in my class.

    Students started by reading and discussing the article in small groups. They learned about how Anna Bullus, a designer, came up with a way to make new products from recycled gum. Working with a chemistry lab, Bullus found out that gum is made of edible rubber and that it’s sensitive to temperature.

    Today, her company, Gumdrop, makes recyclable bins where people can deposit used gum. She places these bins in airports, schools and parks in England. She uses this chewed gum to make all kinds of things, from rulers to shoes.

    My students were intrigued when they learned that rulers could be made from nasty gum full of germs. It’s important for students to have background knowledge and understand how science relates to their lives. This article introduced concepts about physical and chemical properties by connecting those ideas to a fun and relatable topic—gum!

    After students read the article, I gave them a stick of gum, and they described all of its physical properties. But I wanted them to explore gum further, so I used a resource called “Stretch Test” on the SuperScience website. This is a hands-on investigation in which students test gum’s elasticity based on temperature.

    First, students chewed two pieces of gum. They placed one in cold water and the other in warm water for two minutes. Then they stretched the gum and made observations. When they compared data, they discovered the gum stretched farther after being in warm water. My students were amazed at how far the gum stretched. They also said it became very sticky.

     

    Teacher Tips for This Lesson:

    • When doing this science experiment, prepare materials ahead of time, perform it in two class periods if possible and have students conduct it individually with guidance.
    • It is important to give students background information on the topic—either before or after the investigation. I explained that the gum’s molecules were closer together after it was in cold water, so it was harder to stretch. Yet they moved apart after being in warm water and were easier to draw out.
    • Tie the investigation to the article by referring to Anna’s discovery that gum elasticity changes in varying temperatures.

    If you’re looking for more ways to connect science concepts to your students’ lives, I highly recommend SuperScience magazine. You can even try it free for 30 days when you place an order for the 2019–2020 school year. I’m sure your students will love all the fascinating articles and team-building activities as much as mine do!

     

     

    Michelle Gay has been an educator for more than 20 years. A lifelong lover of science, she serves as the Gifted Specialist at Foley Elementary School in Foley, Alabama. 

     

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