…so you reach for a disposable diaper. As advertised – baby is kept dry and the “used” diaper is, well, amazingly heavy.
You toss it out, it’s gone.
But wait! How does the diaper HOLD all that water?
Disposable diapers have been a part of our child-rearing culture ever since Pampers were introduced in 1961 (Johnson & Johnson actually marketed disposables in 1948, but they didn’t catch on like Pampers). And boy do we Americans love ‘em!
Over 3.6 million tons of disposable diapers protect little American baby bottoms every year.
But back to our question: what sort of magic keeps the water in and helps keep our little prince or princess dry?
It’s not magic, it’s just neat chemistry. So if you’re REALLY the hands-on type, this simple little experiment is easy and fun to do. (GUITV suggests this experiment for scientists ages 6-12)
The water you pour in the cup immediately turns into a gelatin-like solid. You’ll be amazed at how fast this works. It’s okay to touch it and even press your finger into it. You shouldn’t eat or drink it, however, and be sure it’s securely tossed away when you’re done.
That’s how the diaper does the job: the white powder consumes over 800 times its volume in water – which means it can hold a whole lot! More than a baby can dish out…usually.
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