By Ryan Lee
As a freshman, I already know the importance of service and giving back to our community in Paper Science and Engineering. One way we can do outreach is through our professional organization, the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI). Each semester our TAPPI chapter plans service events to teach others about paper. This year we attended the Morrisville Elementary STEM Day event to teach students how to make paper.
Let’s Make Paper!
Making paper with kids in the classroom requires the use of hand sheet molds. We brought pulp from our own pilot lab on campus to use. We walked the students through the process of making paper, which eventually led to them making their own. The paper was made through gravity, compression, and drying.
Students started by taking a cup of pulp and emptying it in the hand sheet molds. The molds are submerged in water inside of a plastic container, so the pulp is floating in water inside of the mold. Once the fibers are spread out, students carefully lifted the mold up until a vacuum or suction force was felt. The water drains out and starts binding the fibers together. After the mold was out of the water, we took it apart and blotted the weakly formed paper until it was strong enough to stay together. The students then took their paper sheet over to our speed dryers to be heated and dried.
While students eagerly waited for their hand sheet to dry, we talked to them about paper and how we could not survive without the products made in our industry. Once the sheets were dry, they were returned to students for them to decorate, though some chose to make paper airplanes!
Paper is our Favorite Thing in the World
Service is very important to TAPPI and the NC State Paper Science and Engineering program because we enjoy it and it makes us more well-rounded engineers. “It was a ton of fun teaching all the kids about my favorite thing in the world – paper!” said NCSU TAPPI Service Chair Madeleine Foster. “Service is a large part of TAPPI and as a club we really enjoy sharing the paper industry with our community.”