Photo depicting NJ 4-H National Science Experiment Day

NJ 4-H National Science Experiment Day

Can diapers help the environment?

The global landscape is changing: as human populations increase, so does the need for developed land, clean drinking water, and sustainable crops. New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the county, is working to conserve and protect its water resources. So, can diapers help us to protect the environment? Maybe not, but the stuff in them might! Diapers contain super-absorbent material that retains water called hydrogel. This material could be used to conserve water use in agriculture and forestry.

Join Us in a National Experiment: Helpful Hydrogels!

Photo: Students performing an experiment.

4-H is providing an easy-to-perform activity that helps youth discuss environmental issues related to water conservation and groundwater contamination. Specifically, we will look at the potential impact of hydrogels. Youth are invited to explore the properties of these polymers and test their effectiveness in an easy-to-administer soil and water experiment and then post their findings online to engage in a dialogue with fellow youth nationwide. Please join us!

Download the Activities

Share Your Results

Watch the Launch

Rutgers University Resources

Map of New Jersey showing land usage. How is New Jersey's landscape changing? Check out Dr. Rick Lathrop's research on land use changes in New Jersey.

How does your watershed impact the ocean? Drs. Scott Glenn and Oscar Schofield in the Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory (or COOL for short), are using exciting new technology to explore New Jersey's coastal waters.

How can we protect New Jersey's water resources? Learn about New Jersey's water resources with Dr. Chris Obropta.

Want to learn more about hydrogel technology?

Now Diaper Technology Takes on a Desert (from the NY Times)
This is a great article describing how chemical manufacturers are developing hydrogels as soil amendments to help sandy soils grow lush green plants. There is even an artificial island in Dubai called Palm Island made of this stuff!

Focus on Land and Climate
Scientists at the United Nations are focusing on how soil is a key issue to climate change. And are using hydrogels to prevent desertification.

Hydrogels Are Used for Lots of Things!
Scientists from the University of Delaware are using nanohydrogels in biomedical research. Regenerating healthy tissue in a cancer-ridden liver, healing a biopsy site, and providing wounded soldiers in battle with pain killing, infection-fighting medical treatment are among the myriad uses the scientists foresee for the new technology.


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences