By guest blogger Bryan Robison
As a paper science major at NC State, you don’t spend all of your time in the classroom. Students seek out opportunities to join clubs, participate in extracurricular events, and to volunteer to the greater community. One way paper science students can volunteer is through our professional organization, TAPPI (Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry).
Every semester TAPPI organizes several service events for its members and one long time event is to teach kids how to make paper at Morrisville Elementary School. This year a dozen paper science students and over one-hundred elementary school students participated in the event.
To make the paper in a classroom setting, pulp slurry was brought in from our pilot plant. The students were then led through the papermaking process. To create a sheet of paper, water must be removed from the pulp by a gravity, vacuum, press, and dryer section.
Elementary students imitated this process by creating their own hand sheet of a 5”by 11” sheet of paper. Students began the process by putting about two-thirds of a cup of stock into a wooden mold. The wooden mold is inside a large plastic container with water.
A screen is located in the middle of the mold to form the paper sheet. After the stock is placed in mold, the student raises the mold slowly from the plastic container. When the screen is raised above the surface of the water, a vacuum develops draining the water from the pulp. The pulp is pressed by large rolling pin to remove additional free-standing water. The elementary students then gave their hand sheet off to be dried in a press oven for about ten minutes.
As the students waiting for their paper to dry, they were taught about the American paper industry. Some of the facts that were mentioned about the paper industry included that America has more forest land than in 1950, and the ease of recycling of paper. Just put the paper back into water and add turbulence!
After 10 minutes, the paper was dry and each student received their own paper that they had made. The students spent the remainder of the class period decorating and drawing on their sheet of paper.