The Unravelling Cup - Free Science Experiments

Time for another smelly science experiment! This one is a great way to discover the magic of polymers as well as make a big stringy mess!

What Do I Need?

  • A polystyrene cup
  • Acetone (or nail polish remover!)
The Unravelling Cup - What Do I Need?

How Do I Do It?

STEP1 - So simple but so much fun! First off add a little bit of acetone (or nail polish remover) to your polystyrene cup - see how it dissolves!

WARNING: You definitely don't want to get acetone in your eyes and it's flammable too so be careful!

STEP2 - Now you've got the hang of it go right round the cup with a line of acetone!

STEP3 - Here's the cool bit - pull the cup in half! You've now unravelled a polystyrene cup!

The Unravelling Cup - How Do I Do It?

What’s Going On?

You know that polystyrene cups are usually used to keep hot drinks hot but how do they work? The clue is in the name 'polystyrene' - that 'poly' bit lets us know it's a polymer! 

That means that the cup is made of long chains of molecules and it's the way that these long chains of molecules wrap together around all of the air that makes these cups are so light and so good at insulating.

The acetone breaks it your cup down, lets all the air out and you can see just how little material the cup is made from! We can just use nail polish remover as this is full of acetone.

The Unravelling Cup - What’s Going On?
More Fun Please! - Experiment Like A Real Scientist!
  • What works best?
  • Acetone or nail polish remover?
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