Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
4 students
Active Time
2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time
2 hours 45 minutes
Area of Science
Materials Science
Key Concepts
Medicine, materials science
Learning Objectives
  • Identify various physical properties of a polymer
  • Collaboratively undertake a design project that meets specific design criteria and constraints
  • Optimize a design solution based on iterative testing
Bath tablets, built example tablets and a stopwatch next to a cup of water that has a dissolving example tablet in it.

Overview

In this lesson, students are challenged to design and build a controlled-release tablet, which will be made from different colored bath tablets and a variety of water-soluble plastics. First, they will have to test the properties of each of the different plastic materials. Then their task will be to create a tablet that releases three different colors, each at a pre-determined time after the tablet has been submerged in water. As students design and build their controlled-release tablets, they will realize how the properties of each material affect their results. At the same time, students will get insight and exposure to drug formulation and development procedures.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.

  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation.

Collect data about the performance of a proposed object, tool, process, or system under a range of conditions.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Apply scientific ideas or principles to design, construct, and/or test a design of an object, tool, process or system.

Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints.

Optimize performance of a design by prioritizing criteria, making tradeoffs, testing, revising, and retesting.
PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter. Each pure substance has characteristic physical and chemical properties (for any bulk quantity under given conditions) that can be used to identify it.

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution. Although one design may not perform the best across all tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process—that is, some of the characteristics may be incorporated into the new design.

The iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution.
Structure and Function. Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used.

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


Materials needed for the delayed release tablet lesson.

For each student group:

For groups to share:

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
4 students
Active Time
2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time
2 hours 45 minutes
Area of Science
Materials Science
Key Concepts
Medicine, materials science
Learning Objectives
  • Identify various physical properties of a polymer
  • Collaboratively undertake a design project that meets specific design criteria and constraints
  • Optimize a design solution based on iterative testing
Free science fair projects.