STEM Activity: Let it Snow…Indoors!
Discover the power of polymers by exploring the fascinating material inside of a baby diaper in this fun snow science experiment. Be sure to find a fresh, new diaper and get ready for indoor snow fun!
- Clean disposable diaper
- Mixing bowl, large
- Plastic toys or animals, small
- Cut open the bottom of one disposable diaper.
- Carefully peel the white fluffy material from inside the diaper and place in the bowl.
- Slowly add water, a little at a time, to the diaper material.
- Mash up the material in the water, breaking it into small pieces. (Roll up those sleeves!)
- Be amazed as the “snowy” material expands and absorbs water.
- To make the snow more realistic, chill it in the refrigerator.
- Add plastic toys and animals for wintery-scene play!
- When finished playing, be sure to dispose of the play snow properly in the garbage.
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!
Indoor snow is easy to experiment with in a classroom. It can be implemented as a demonstration, or in small groups or teams. Students can be challenged to see how much water their “snow” can absorb! Encourage them to make predictions and record their data. In addition, have children brainstorm alternative uses for this material. Prompt them with various environments and situations (e.g., in space, in vehicles, in packaging, etc.)
What are we learning?
The material inside disposable diapers is a polymer called sodium polyacrylate. It is highly absorbent and can hold up to 500 times its weight in water, becoming a gel. This material is used in many applications, including keeping moisture in potting soil for flowers and plants, and manufacturing gel ice packs and disposable diapers.
Looking for more STEM activities?
For more fun science, check out our winter-themed STEM activities in our STEM Activity library or visit our Camp Invention Facebook page!