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Polymerization of a Hydrocarbon (The Sucker Lab)

Time Frame

1 class periods of 90 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups


Utah LessonPlans


This "tongue in cheek" activity is a great way to end the school year. Students decode heavy chemistry words to make a sucker.



  • student sheet (attached)
    per group-hide or remove the labels from any labeled container
  • 50 mL saturated solution of D-glucose (C6H12O6) -- Light Karo syrup
  • 2.8 moles H2O
  • 0.51 moles sucrose (C12H22O11) -- table sugar
  • a drop of 2-hydroxy-1,2,3-propanetricarboxylic acid -- Citric acid
  • esterified fatty acid -- Pam spray
  • 80/20 mixture of methane and ethane -- gas jet fuel

    Flavorings: (extracts from)

  • sarsaparilla and sassafras root -- root beer
  • Cocos nucifera -- coconut
  • Maclura pomifera -- orange
  • Citrus limon -- lemon
  • Lamiaceae -- mint
  • Aluminium foil
  • organic dye (Red #3, #40, erythrusein;
  • Yellow #5, #6, partrazien;
  • Green #1, guinea green) -- food coloring

    Glassware must be dedicated to this lab and kept food quality clean

  • sodium-aluminum borosilicate container
  • pyrex beaker
  • wooden splint
  • thermometer
  • stir rods

Background for Teachers

Safety issues: Safety glasses and hot glass handling equipment is required.

Instructional Procedures

  1. The fun in this lab comes from making it sound harder than it is. Don't give it away early.
  2. Tell students they are making a polyhydroxyl hydrocarbon and that they need to follow the directions very carefully and ask if they don't understand something. Do not read the instructions with them.
  3. Look at the ingredients for the flavorings and write them on the board.
  4. Supervise the experiment carefully; there is a small risk when heating the liquid.


Lesson Design by Jordan School District Teachers and Staff.

Created: 01/06/2015
Updated: 02/05/2018