Introduction to the New Chain Gang

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In this activity, learners use pop-beads to understand the characteristics and properties of polymer chains. Learners discover how cross-linked polymers behave differently than non-cross-linked polymers. This activity also introduces learners to some optical properties of polymers.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • 3 different colored sets of pop-beads
  • 1 single-layer leaf bag
  • 1 double-layer leaf bag
  • 1 newspaper
  • Cellophane tape
  • Iridescent plastic film
  • 2 Polarizing lenses


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • Vibration and Waves
    • Light and Optics
      • Lenses and Mirrors
      • Reflection and Refraction
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation Education and Human Resource Directorate, ESI 92-53386
  • National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Cement Based Materials
  • Dow Chemical Foundation
  • Materials Research Society
  • Iron and Steel Society
  • Peoria Chapter of the American Society for Metals