Diaper Dissection

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This is written as a display, but can easily be adapted to a hands-on activity. Learners discover how all the parts of a diaper work together to keep babies dry and comfortable. They can find multiple layers of material, and the inner core contains small super-absorbent crystals. These polyacrylate crystals can hold up to 60 times their mass in urine, and up to 200 times their mass in water.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Exhibit


Materials List (per group of students)

  • One 250-ml Erlenmeyer flask with stopper
  • One small clear glass bottle with lid
  • One dissection pan
  • Ten dissection pins or paper clips
  • dH2O (deionized water) (keep 300 ml on hand)
  • Electrician’s tape
  • Four overnight or superabsorbent diapers
  • 0.5 g Sodium polyacrylate (optional)
  • Heavy-duty clear plastic sheeting (enough to cover the dissection pan)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Science Festivals Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation