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LESSON PLAN in Intermolecular Forces, Interdisciplinary, History, Polymers, Intramolecular Forces, ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program. Last updated August 31, 2022.


In this lesson, students will learn about how sticky tape was developed through reading an article. There are a series of activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as plans for a substitute teacher, as most of the activities are self-guided.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS2-6: Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
    • Developing and using models.


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Understand how Van der Waals forces work in a real-life application.
  • Know the difference between cohesion and adhesion.
  • Recognize an application of polymers.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Intermolecular Forces
  • Van der Waals Forces
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes

Lesson: Approximate times for students to complete each activity in the lesson:

  • Anticipation Guide: 5 minutes
  • Reading: 20 minutes
  • History Exercise: 5–10 minutes
  • Graphic Organizer: 15–20 minutes
  • Vocabulary Exercise: 15–30 minutes
  • Summary Exercise: 10–15 minutes
  • Intermolecular Forces: 15–20 minutes


  • Reading document and any lessons that accompany it that you want to include.


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes


Lesson Overview:

The lesson includes multiple components as outlined individually below. The Reading is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:

  • Introduction: Take a few minutes to introduce the lesson with a few conversation starters. When did you last use sticky tape? What did you use it for? (Note the variety of answers to this question.) How does it stick? When was it invented? What obstacles had to be overcome to make it work as it does today?
  • Activity: Anticipation Guide
    • Before reading, students make some educated guesses about the importance of the engineering design process and the chemistry of adhesives. Once they read, they adjust their answers and identify correct information for incorrect statements.
  • Activity: History Exercise: Timeline of Tape
    • Order events that happened as the invention of sticky tape evolved.
    • The teacher could cut up the events into strips and have students initially order the events as a class.
  • Reading: Scotch Transparent Tape
  • Activity: Graphic Organizer: The Engineering Design Process
    • Students will describe what Richard Drew did during each phase of the engineering design process as he developed tape.
  • Activity: Frayer Model
    • Students create a Frayer model to illustrate new vocabulary words learned from the reading.
    • This could also be done as a jigsaw activity, where each student/group of students investigates one part, and the class collectively learns about a variety of words.
      • Note: No answer key provided – answers will vary.
  • Activity: Summarize & Evaluate
    • Students summarize what is needed to make tape and explain the challenges Richard Drew had to overcome to develop it.
  • Activity: Polymers & Intermolecular Forces
    • Solidify the understanding of intermolecular forces by modeling monomers and polymers. Identify the intramolecular forces formed to create the polymer, and then identify where intermolecular forces occur that make adhesive’s sticky properties.