Our favorite scientist returned today and got us all asking those important science questions. Today we discovered the magic properties of a polymer. Before the experiment we learned the word polymer and thought it was just a regular old powder like salt or sugar. After the experiment, however, our minds were blown! Take a look!
Problem: What happens to the powder inside a diaper when water is added to it?
Materials: water, diaper, 1/4 tsp. polymer, zip-lock bag, measuring cup, timer
Procedure: Get a zip-lock bag. Add 1/4 cup of water. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of polymer. Zip the bag shut. Squeeze the bag for about two minutes.
Here's what happened: The powder and the water turned into a jelly solid. We watched a physical reaction take place. We've witnessed chemical reactions before where two chemicals come together to create a new chemical, like baking soda and vinegar. In today's experiment, the polymer simply soaked up the water and turned into a jelly like substance. No new chemicals were created so we just witnessed a physical change.
Turns out we were able to undo the physical reaction we witnessed with a little bit of salt. If you eat a lot of salt, chances are you're mouth is going to be dry and you will want a glass of water. When you add salt to the polymer water mixture the salt starts to suck up the water and release it from the polymer. Super cool. The title of this experiment comes from DIAPERS. Gross? Not really. Polymer powder is found in diapers and that what magically soaks up all the liquid.
We used cut up diapers and whacked the polymer powder out of them to observe how this really worked in a diaper. Only a 1/4 tsp. of polymer per diaper will do the job!
Did you know a polymer can hold up to 100 times it's weight in liquid?
Try putting a diaper in a pool!