Saturday, December 14, 2013

Making Particleboard

You may have noticed a sample of something that looks a little strange in a ziploc bag in your child's backpack...we made particleboard in Science!

Particleboard is a type of man-made wood.  We started the investigation by observing some particleboard samples with magnifying lenses.


We noticed some interesting things.  It looked like there were lots of tiny little pieces in these samples.  But where do they come from?  There are no particleboard trees in the woods!  Through our discussion, we learned that particle means a very small piece.  To make particleboard, you use lots of particles...specifically sawdust and wood shavings, collected from when a wood worker saws or cuts wood.  And you need a special kind of glue, called resin, to hold the particles together to make particleboard.  We decided to make some of our own.

Mrs. Kurt made the resin out of water and corn starch.  We had to work with it to make it soft and workable, kind of like playing with clay or play dough.  It felt kind of strange!


Then came the messy part.  Each table got containers of sawdust and wood shavings.  Now we had to cover the resin with the sawdust and wood shavings, just like real particleboard.  This was fun and there was sawdust and wood shavings everywhere!



We were not quite finished.  When real particleboard is made, it is dried with heat lamps.  Since we did not have heat lamps, we placed it under our lockers overnight until it was dry.  Our samples may not look like real particleboard, but we now understand how it is made.  Next week we will make plywood, or sandwich wood.  Should be fun!

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