This laboratory learning activity (LLA) has its origin in materials science; specifically, in research aimed at improving the rate of production of carbon fibre composite materials. Currently carbon fibre objects cannot be made fast enough to keep pace with the production lines of major car companies. So, rapid production of carbon fibre composite material is necessary if this very strong and lightweight material is ever to replace metals in the mass manufacture of motor vehicles.
In the production of carbon fibre composite, the resin component must spread through the carbon fibre cloth, and the rate at which the resin spreads through the fibre cloth depends on the viscosity of the resin.
The viscosity of a liquid changes with temperature. In this activity, students investigate changes in the viscosity of honey at different temperatures. This has further relevance in the context of the carbon fibre problem because the curing of the resin also has an optimum temperature. If the temperature is too high the resin may harden before it has spread through the fibres.
The LLA also provides a context in which students can develop science inquiry skills and a conceptual understanding of how the properties of materials are determined by the forces between particles both within materials (cohesive forces) and between materials and the surfaces with which they are in contact (adhesive forces).
This LLA addresses learning outcomes related to the particle model of matter, science inquiry with specific focus on Identify questions, problems and claims that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge. The application of science understanding in solving problems will also be considered.
The following documents comprise the notes and instructions for this activity. The Teachers Notes provide background information and along with the Technical Notes will enable teachers to use the activity. The Student Worksheets are provided (word docs will soon be provided so that you can adapt the activity to suit your needs) and sample answers are also provided (in draft form).
Viscosity Teacher Notes
Viscosity Technical Notes
Viscosity Student Worksheet (Pdf)
Viscosity Student Worksheet (Word)