Introducing the Journal of Chemical Education's "Special Issue: Polymer Concepts across the Curriculum"

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Journal of Chemical Education

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Synthetic polymers are all around us in the 21st century, ranging from commodity items made from poly(ethylene) and poly(vinyl chloride) to high-tech materials for aerospace, electronics, and medicine. Yet polymer chemistry is often neglected in formal chemical education. Once students recognize the many ways in which polymers are part of their everyday lives, they are motivated to learn about how polymers are made, their unique thermal, mechanical, and optical properties, and how plastics, fibers, elastomers, and adhesives all are possible because of long-chain molecules. Recognizing the importance of synthetic polymers as well as biopolymers, supramolecular structures, and nanoscale materials, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Professional Training now requires teaching of at least two of these topics in chemistry courses for ACS-certified undergraduate degrees. This special issue of the Journal is a contributed collection of papers describing how polymers are being taught in general, foundational, and advanced chemistry courses and also in high schools, workshops, and demonstrations for the public. The papers in general do not describe complete courses; instead, they describe modules and experiments that could be implemented at different educational levels and in different environments. The papers are sources of ideas of how instructors can incorporate polymer chemistry into their own courses.



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