Let’s chemical engineer some GAK!

chemEGakHappy Engineering Week!  Do you think your child might be good at engineering? Are you curious about what engineers do?  One type of engineering (and there are many) is chemical engineering – which of course is my favorite!

I’ll be honest.  I started my initial interest in chemical engineering because 1.) my oldest brother was a chemical engineer and 2.) I liked chemistry and math.  I checked the chemical engineering admission box because I thought to myself, “if my brother can do it, so can I!”

Since then I’ve learned that it takes a lot more than being good in math and science to be an effective engineer.   You need to be persistent, creative, a team player, a problem solver, and a good communicator.

Chemical Engineers help make what?!

Chemical engineers use chemical reactions to make products that improve the lives of others.  Ever wonder who makes the chemicals that produce Ziploc bags?  How about fabric softeners or baby diapers?  Have you imagined a chemical engineer when you snarf down a bag of Fritos?  What about when you have a pounding headache and need an aspirin?  You can thank a chemical engineer for bringing these products to you!

GAK: Chemical Engineering preschool style.

This past weekend we were discussing engineering and Allie said, “Mom, am I an engineer?” and I said, “Of course you are!”  I know this because she continues to engineer her tinker toy world and improve ways to eat cookies and milk through a straw!

So what better way to introduce chemical engineering to my preschooler than doing some chemistry with GAK!  You’ll need Borax, 8 oz. Elmer’s glue, and warm water.

– Empty the glue into a large mixing bowl

– Fill the empty glue bottle with warm water, swish it around, and pour the glue-water mixture in the mixing bowl

– Mix glue and warm water with a spoon

– In a separate cup, mix a teaspoon of Borax with 1/2 cup of warm water

– Slowly pour the Borax and water into the glue mixture and stir with a spoon

– Get ready for the slimey fun to ensue!

Polymers are everywhere!

Borax reacts with glue and links the glue molecules together.  The linked glue molecules trap the water which makes the amazing gooey slime!  This linking process is called polymerization.

Chemical engineers use polymerization to make products like plastic, tires, toothbrushes, rain coats, and bottles…just to name a few!  Polymers are everywhere!

I hope you have fun with your chemical engineering preschooler today doing some polymer chemistry with GAK!

Categories: 5 minute experiments | Tags: , , |


  • Agnes Steelhammer | February 24, 2015 | Reply

    I like that stuff. So much fun!

  • Jim Steelhammer | March 1, 2015 | Reply

    3 months. WOW. If Greg can do it so can I. Doesn’t a young women sing a song. “”What ever you can do I can do better”

  • Lisa Steelhammer | March 6, 2015 | Reply

    So Allie, Uncle Greg is an inspiration!

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