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Polymer Fun

Problem: What is one theory as to how intergalactic material formed solar systems and their components?

Materials: Elmer's white glue, wood glue and borax.


1. Use a small beaker or jar and mix 40 ml of white glue and 40 ml of yellow wood glue. Food coloring may be added if desired. Try different combinations with different groups of students. Some use only white glue.

Pour the glue in the bottom of a clear glass or plastic pie pan.

2. Combine 1 gram of borax in 15 ml of water.

3. Add the borax solution to the glue. Put a clear plastic sheet over the top of the mixture and, using the hand, rotate the top sheet and observe the formation of a galaxy or solar system. Note that the "sun" may not end up in the middle of the pan. You should see the formation of rings and planets as the rotation is done... and that these will lie in the plane, much as our planets lie primarily in a plane. Thus as the mass was rotating in space, "gravity" caused the formation of suns and planets.

4. Repeat the process varying the concentration of the borax solution and the temperature of the borax solution.

Summing Up:

1. Describe your observations.

2. What role did the borax solution play in the process? Which fundamental force did the solution replicate? Please explain the processes.

3. How do the different compositions relate to the different stages of the formation of the universe or matter?