Year 6 Capture their Memories in Resin

Year 6 Capture their Memories in Resin

In taking part in the final science projects of Year 6, the children have produced some absolutely beautiful, carefully planned and executed results.

The preparation for the resin project began around 6 weeks ago where the children were asked to start collecting natural resources such as flowers, leaves, little shells, mini stones etc and ensure they were clean and dry. Many learned for the first time how to press flowers and dry them carefully so they were ready to be preserved forever in the crystal clear resin. The over arching message and purpose was for us to capture a moment in time to celebrate our final year at Caterham Prep and use things which were significant and would invoke special memories for years to come.

The project brings together so many parts of the Upper Prep School Science curriculum in that we are working with changes of state as the volatile part of the viscous liquid evaporates into a gas to allow the molecules left behind to become a clear solid, fossilisation – we are artificially creating the conditions for a fossil, much as amber resin did in the Eocene period around 50 million years ago; life cycles of plants and animals – some children used seeds, flowers, leaves…and dead bugs – yes, a number opted to include some dried, dead wasps, flies, bees and beetles; and the processes of chemical reactions – where we learned the basics of a polymerisation reaction in resin as multiple bonds form as the liquid turns into a solid.

6S and 6M were first carefully briefed on all aspects of the safety measures required to work with resin – and with this information were required to produce an online guide to demonstrate their understanding. Riley Bot was used to help hone and refine these guides which included why we needed windows open, to use goggles, have hair tied back, wear aprons and why we should keep everything in the trays lined with baking parchment. Most importantly, knowing how to remove any sticky resin if you got some on your hands (baby oil or hand cream and a paper towel then soap!).

The book mark and larger moulds were handed out and the children chose their favourite shapes before carefully arranging their precious memories, including an initialled wooden bead given to every Year 6, into intricate patterns and creative displays. Then it was time to add the resin. You mix equal parts of resin and hardener and then mix for a minimum of 4 minutes to allow the two sticky liquids to combine. This mixing kick starts the chemical reaction where the liquid turns first to a thixotrope (a state of matter between a liquid and solid) and then takes around 24 hours to fully harden into a solid.

All went to plan fantastically well, 6M had their lesson in the morning, and the resins were carefully left to set. However, for 6S, the heatwave of last week reached a peak for their lesson and something rather unexpected happened – all of the prepared resin set solid in the pouring jugs in less than half an hour after they were mixed!  The heat of the day had charged up the polymerisation process by such an enormous degree we had 10 perfectly formed, cured moulds and no resin to actually pour! Quickly another batch of resin for 6S was being made, while thoughts went rapidly onto what we could do with these rather lovely, transparent monoliths.

A day later and the results were ready to discover by the Y6s. Many made ‘unboxing videos’ as they revealed their hard work. The Year 6s made some incredibly beautiful artefacts to take home to immortalise their time at Caterham Prep.

…And as for those monoliths…they were indispensable at the Prep Sports Day acting as paperweights on the scoring table!

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