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What Sticky Sea Creatures Can Teach Us About Making Glue

How some animals may help us create non-toxic, degradable glues and cements for everyday use

Scientist Jonathan Wilker explores how some animals can make their own natural glues and cements. He explains how these creatures from the sea could be our keys to creating non-toxic, degradable glues and cements for everyday use.

Think About It

  1. Working with what you know about the ocean, deduce what would make it a “demanding environment” at the water’s edge.
  2. Expound on the three advantages that Wilker listed for barnacles that live together. What other things might they have or do as a group that they might not individually?
  1. Discuss what some of the benefits might be of the lab making the water turbulent for the mussels. What do you think the purpose is of cycling the lights?
  1. Hypothesize why the cement would look so different from the shells.
  1. Outline what type of tests you would use to determine the strength of the adhesive you created.
  1. Explain how these products are able to be produced if we know they are produced with toxic adhesives. Speculate how they got past the Food and Drug Administration, which determines what is safe for the public.
  1. Explain the importance of the “surf-and-turf” bio-based polymer.
  2. Assess why the scientist might “whack it with a hammer” when dealing with hard tissues such as bones. Compare and contrast that method with the “cutting it in very precise shapes” testing they do.
  3. Consider other places new adhesives might be used. List five.

Read About It

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