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Akron Global Polymer Academy Lesson Plans

Naturally Hydrophobic

Grades: 9-12
Author: Danielle T. Moore
Source: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-1161732.


In nature, hydrophobic systems occur all around us. One such natural phenomenon is the hydrophobicity exhibited in roses and their petals. Another is the hydrophobicity of lotus leaves. The naturally non-wetting surface has micro-scale surface layer properties which create a relative high contact angle when contacted with water. Using contact angle measurements, students will investigate different commercial hydrophobic coatings. Students knowledge of surface chemistry and effective use of skills related to observations, measurement, data analysis and critical thinking will be used to design a multi-tiered experimental design. Students will utilize process to make accurate decisions supporting or disproving manufacture claims of product effectiveness.


What should students know as a result of this lesson?

What should the students be able to do as a result of this lesson?




Students will utilize hands-on trouble shooting to coat and test various samples. Students will use active learning to ensure every member of the group participates.

Observations of student participation and accountable conversations as well as written observations can be used as assessments.


Students will perform research on products creating hydrophobic effect in addition to research on the chemistry of surface structures.

Students will present and/or substantiate effectiveness of product samples.


Students will provide written evidence of learning throughout the lab process.

Students written observations will be checked for accuracy throughout investigation. Students will also provide verbal explanations when prompted.


Students will test various products and materials to determine the variation in surface chemistry among researched materials.



Best Teaching Practices

Alignment with Standards

NGSS Standards:

Common Core Standards:

Ohio Standards:

Content Knowledge

Basic understanding of physics and chemistry is needed. Students may integrate smart phone and/or other devices for protractor applications and contact angle measurements.


Product application should be performed under a fume hood or well-ventilated area. The manufacturer instructions for applying coatings should be followed. Standard lab safety rules apply. Students should thoroughly wash hands after lab and avoid contact with eyes.


Students' knowledge of hydrophobic properties and investigation will lead to improved consumer choices. Students can also deepen understanding of polymer structure and synthesis to increase knowledge of molecular chemistry for collegiate and/or industrial usage.


Completed Lab Worksheets

Other Considerations

Grouping Suggestions: Student groups should contain students of all ability levels. Students may be assigned (or self- select) roles to ensure equal student participation and accountability.

Pacing/Suggested Time: 2 - 40 minute class periods

Printable PDF Worksheets

Naturally Hydrophobic: Investigating Contact Angle Lab Worksheet