Shrinky Dinks

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Heat makes some materials expand, and it makes others shrink. In this experiment, learners will use unique shrinking properties of recycled plastic (solid polystyrene‚ÄĒgeneral purpose recyclable Plastic #6) to create ornaments, jewelry, a guitar pick and much more. This resource contains an explanation of the molecular makeup of plastic and polymers, tips for parents/teachers, and cool links. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Solid polystyrene (general purpose recyclable Plastic #6, tops of food containers work very well)
  • Toaster oven
  • Markers (Dry Erase or Permanent)
  • Sandpaper
  • Hole punch
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Oven mitt
  • Ribbon (optional)
  • Scissors


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • TryScience


  • All rights reserved, Louisville Science Center,