Posted tagged ‘Margaret-Ann Armour’

Fun & flexibility for women in science

April 27, 2009

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If you can’t find Margaret-Ann Armour in her office at the University of Alberta, you might very well find her in a school classroom surrounded by kids.

Take March 13th as an example. That’s when she spent the day at Windsor Park School showing grade three and grade five students how to make nylon.

“One of the great joys of my life has been going out to schools and having fun with chemistry. That means I can take all sorts of colourful demonstrations that I can get the children involved in as well. They get quite excited when, out of a beaker, you can pull a thread of nylon.”

Even I learned a thing or two listening to this amazing professor explain the chemical reaction that produces polymerization.

“We talk about the fact that nylon is made from two small molecules. And these two small molecules are in some way like people. They’ve got two arms. That means they can all join up together in a long line. And, of course, I always have the children join up. Nylon in chemical terms is called a polymer. And that just means that it is ‘many molecules’. We have such fun. I tell the children when they are all joined up with their hands that now they are ‘poly-people’. They remember that and so they’ve got the idea of the many molecules and this long chain which is why you get a thread of nylon.”  …. Read More