Science Project:

Diaper Dissection

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Determine which disposable diaper holds the most fluid.

  • 8 disposable diapers (two each of four different brands)
  • 12 small re-closeable plastic bags
  • Permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • Warm water
  • Sink
  • ¼-cup measuring cup

Since their invention in 1950, disposable diapers have provided a convenient alternative to cloth diapers. The polymers absorb liquid while the layered construction pulls the wetness away from the body.

In this investigation, different brands of diapers are tested and compared.

Terms:
polymers: a compound made up of many smaller molecules absorbent: able to take in liquid
Concepts:

Disposable diapers are made up of layers of absorbent polymers. Disposable diapers provide comfort and convenience. They also provide an ecological problem as to how and where they should be disposed.

Research Questions:
  • How do disposable diapers absorb so much fluid?
  • How much fluid do disposable diapers absorb?
  • Do different brands of disposable diapers absorb different amounts of fluid?

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Cut a 5 x 5 inch square piece from the center of one of each of the disposable diapers.
  3. Dissect each diaper. Locate the polymer. Put the different layers of the diaper into small re-closable bags to be used in your science fair display. Label the plastic bags.
  4. At a sink, pour ¼-cup of warm water into the center of one of the diapers. Gently rock the diaper until all the water is absorbed. Continue adding warm water ¼-cup at a time until the water spills out of the diaper. Record the results.
  5. Repeat Step 3 with each of the disposable diapers.
  6. Compare the results of all the diapers.

Articles:

“What is the crystalline substance found in disposable diapers?” at howstuffworks.com

“Diaper Wars” from Consumer Reports vol. 63 pp. 53-55, 1998.
Websites:
Steve Spangler Science at www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000057 (The Baby Diaper Secret)
Author: Nancy Rogers Bosse
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