No bones about it!

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This is an activity (located on page 3 of the PDF) about the mixture of materials in bone and how they affect its strength. Learners will play the part of nanoscientists looking for new ways to repair broken bones. Learners will experiment with sponges and Plaster of Paris to find the best mixture that makes the strongest bone. This activity also serves as an excellent model of how nanoscientists must test and retest their formulations to create a desired result. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Bone Regrowth.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • newspaper or tablecloth
  • kitchen sponges (4.5” x 2.75”)
  • plaster of Paris
  • water
  • bucket
  • scale
  • string
  • 2 desks or tables of equal height
  • tablespoon
  • disposable containers
  • Popsicle sticks
  • wax paper
  • weights (or water)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
    • Technology
      • Medical Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Cell Structure and Function
    • Human Body
      • Skeleton
      • Medicine
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749