Sixth Grade Students Participate in 4-H National Youth Science Day Experiment

Posted: October 1, 2013

During the annual Sixth Grade Conservation Field Days, students performed a hands-on 4-H science experiment titled Helpful Hydrogels and discussed the potential use for hydrogels in environmental conservation.
Students participate in an experiment using hydrogels

Students participate in an experiment using hydrogels

Water is everywhere – in the sky, in the ground, and in our homes. However, caring for this vital resource is often a challenge for each of us. Water conservation means using water wisely. Protecting our groundwater is important because it is a source for drinking and irrigation. Consequently, scientists and engineers have developed amazing, superabsorbent polymers, called hydrogels, that can help.

In this investigation, students participated in a hands-on experiment looking at a particular hydrogel that is secretly at work in millions of households across the country… Ask a sixth grader where a common place to find them might be and they'll tell you, "a disposable diaper."

On September 25-26, 2013, as part of their field trip over 300 sixth graders dissected disposable diapers to extract the super-absorbent hydrogel polymers, formed hypotheses, and set to work on performing tests on the substance. They wrapped up their experiments by brainstorming on ways hydrogels could potentially be used in environmental conservation in the future.