Chemistry KS3 & GCSE: The structure, properties and uses of Bakelite

Baekeland discovered that carefully controlling the speed of the reaction between phenol and formaldehyde produced a mouldable resin.

Mark describes the structure of Bakelite and how the links between molecules mean that it will not melt at higher temperatures (like celluloid did before it).

This clip is from Materials: How They Work.

Teacher Notes

Show the clip before passing round a piece of Bakelite.

Give pairs of students a thermosetting or softening plastic currently in popular use today and challenge them to find details of its discovery, uses and the reaction conditions required.

If not too complicated, the balanced symbol equation for the reaction can be included.

Curriculum Notes

These clips will be relevant for teaching Chemistry at KS3 and GCSE/KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland. The topics discussed will support OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC GCSE in GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 and Higher in Scotland.

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