Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Snowing in The House, or "Mom Was That The Last Diaper?" - More Fun With Polymers

Our lesson on polymers continued this evening, due in large part to the Professor Gizmo video we watched before making our "flubber". In the video, which can be viewed on VideoJug, the Professor turned a fine white powder into fluffy, fake snow. The caption across the screen as he did this, stated, "Polymers can absorb up to 800 times their weight in water."

He mentioned that the powder he was transforming, was very similar to the powder found inside diapers. Now, that caught my attention! We have lots of diapers. It sounded like it was time for another science experiment.

So tonight we harvested the polymer powder from two diapers. That was a lot more difficult than it sounds. As the fine cloud of cotton fibers and powdery dust surrounded me, I began to wonder what would happen if a person inhaled some of those super absorbent polymers? Might I be facing death by diapers? I tied a dish towel over my face, and made the children stand back, just in case.

Finally, we had a small quantity of powder in a cup (which as it turns out is polyacrylic acid, a hydrophilic polymer - meaning it's super absorbent). We added water, and instantly, we had snow! It was wonderful. It worked for us exactly the way it did for Professor Gizmo, though it turns out diaper powder only absorbs 30 times its weight.

My son began to worry that I had cut up the last of our diapers, but happily, I have a surplus stored away in the garage. Science is great, and potty training is probably due, but really, one thing at a time. Still, it's great to be a homeschooler!

1 comment:

Ticia said...

Only 30 times its weight, that's all. That would explain why some of the kids diapers were like 30 pounds.