Kareena’s chemistry – episode 9: polymers and smart materials: nappies


FunKids radio, in collaboration with the RSC, has produced a set of short chemistry snippets introducing children to chemistry- the what, why and how.

Type of Activity

group work, working independently



Age Group


Kareena learns about polymers and smart materials in the context of disposable nappies.


If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate, and communicate their methods and findings.
  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, including:
    • Finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources of information.
    • Carrying out comparative and fair tests.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties.
  • Identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • What is meant by the term absorbency.
  • That materials can be grouped according to their absorbing properties.
  • That ‘smart’ materials are designed to change in specific, helpful ways.

Suggested activity use

This activity can be used to stimulate discussion about the properties of everyday materials and their uses. This particular discussion could be around the property of absorbency. Children could group together materials based on whether they are absorbent or not.

This activity could also provide an opportunity for children to carry out an investigation into which materials would make the best nappies.

Practical considerations

It will be necessary to provide a range of absorbent and non-absorbent materials for children to test and sort, including nappies.