Algae String

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Introduction 

We use plastic objects every day. But what is plastic? If we zoomed in for a closer look, we'd see that it’s made of lots of long molecule chains called polymers. Most of today's plastics are made in a lab and not environmentally friendly, but nature can make useful polymers too! For example, natural rubber and paper are both created from natural polymers that are biodegradable. In this activity you will use polymers made by algae and a bit of chemistry to create your own custom string! 

Design Challenge

Create your own colorful string creations using ingredients that come from algae. Then craft fun things with your string! 

Subject

Biodesign, Chemistry, Materials Science

Ages

8+

Time

Make algae gel: 20 min

Let gel rest: 1 hr- overnight

Make calcium bath: 5 min

Make string: 30 min

Key Concepts

Polymers, chemical reactions, biomaterials, fiber arts

This activity was made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), Grant Number R25 GM129220, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Getting Started

Learn more with our videos

Learn more with our PDF guides

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Algae String Activity Guide

Follow this guide to turn powdered algae into a string using chemistry!

Algae string confetti

Algae String Essential Questions

Get answers to some of the sticky questions frequently asked by adults.

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Algae String Tool Chest

The inside scoop on how different tools might affect your gel or string.

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Algae String Mizuhiki Knots

Try these simple instructions to tie your own decorative Japanese knots.

If you think this looks fun, wait ‘til you try these!