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Ow, My Tummy Hurts! The Biology and Chemistry of Gas Relief

Ow, My Tummy Hurts! The Biology and Chemistry of Gas Relief

Experimental Procedure

Testing Simethicone

In this part of the science project, you will investigate how simethicone tablets affect the formation of bubbles in soapy water. This is a model for how simethicone helps get rid of trapped gas bubbles in a person's gastrointestinal track.

  1. In your lab notebook, create a data table like Table 1.
    1. In steps 11 and 12, you will record your observations and results in this data table.
 Jar Do bubbles form in the water?
Do bubbles collect at the top of the water?
Trial 1 With simethicone  
Without simethicone   
Trial 2 With simethicone   
Without simethicone   
Trial 3 With simethicone  
Without simethicone   
Table 1. In your lab notebook, made a data table like this. When you get to steps 11 and 12, record your results in the data table.
  1. Remove two chewable simethicone tablets from their packaging. They may look similar to the ones in Figure 1 in the Introduction, in the Background tab.
  2. Place the tablets on a cutting board and ask an adult to use a knife to cut the tablets into small pieces.
    1. If you want it to be easier to move the crushed tablets to a jar (which you will do in step 4), you can do this on top of a piece of wax paper.
  3. Use the back of a spoon to crush the small pieces into a powder like that shown in Figure 2.
Medical Biotechnology science project  Image of two crushed simethicone tablets.
Figure 2. Crush two chewable simethicone tablets into a powder.
  1. Carefully put all of the powder into one of your jars, glasses, or vases, as shown in Figure 3.
    1. Keep track of which jar you put the powder in and which one you did not.
      1. If the tablets are colored, like the ones shown in this Procedure, this should not be hard to do, because when you add water to the powder in the jar, the water should turn cloudy.
      2. Tip: You could put a sticky note with a label (such as "With simethicone" or "Without simethicone") on each jar to help you keep track of them.
Medical Biotechnology science project Photo of crushed simethicone in one of two jars.
Figure 3. Move all of the powdered simethicone into one of the two empty jars.
  1. Fill both jars with water until they are about half full.
    1. Your jars may now look similar to the ones shown in Figure 4.
Medical Biotechnology science project Photo of simethicone dissolved in one of two jars
Figure 4. Fill both jars about half full with water.
  1. Add five drops of liquid dishwashing detergent to both jars.
    1. You are adding the detergent now so that when you add more water in step 8 it will help mix the detergent in each jar.
  2. Fill both jars with water until they are filled about one inch from the top of the jar.
    1. It is important to leave some space at the top of the jars for bubbles to form.
    2. How does the liquid in each jar look now? Does one have more bubbles than the other, or do they look about the same?
  3. Put a clean straw into each jar and stir the water in each jar with the straw.
    1. Make sure that the detergent and simethicone powder is well mixed in the water.
    2. What happens to the liquid in each jar when you stir them?
  4. Get a timer ready or have a clock nearby that shows seconds.
  5. Slowly blow through one of the straws (into the liquid in the jar) for 10 seconds.
    1. Do bubbles form inside of the water? In other words, at the bottom of the straw do you see bubbles come out when you blow through it?
    2. Did bubbles collect, or form a layer, on the surface of the water?
    3. Record your answers in the data table in your lab notebook for the correct jar. This will be Trial 1.
      1. Optional: If you need, or want, to quantify your results for your science fair, use a ruler to measure the height of the foam layer (if any bubbles and foam collect) on the surface of the water. You may want to have a helper do this just as you finish blowing through the straw so that you collect the data before any bubbles pop. Remember that science uses metric measurements, so your data should be in millimeters or centimeters.
    4. If you have a camera, take pictures of your results. You may want to take a picture of the side of the jar, and a picture of the top of the jar. Later you can put these pictures on your Science Fair Project Display Board.
      1. If you do not have a camera, you may want to make drawings of the jar in your lab notebook.
  6. Repeat step 11 with the other jar. Try to slowly blow through the straw just as you did with the first jar.
    1. Be sure to record your answers in the data table in your lab notebook for the correct jar.
  7. Repeat steps 2-12 two more times.
    1. Clean and dry the jars completely before using them again, or use two other clean jars, drinking glasses, or vases that are the same size and shape as each other.
    2. The second time you repeat these steps will be Trial 2, and the third time you repeat them will be Trial 3.
    3. Be sure to record your results in the data table in your lab notebook, writing them down for the correct jar and trial each time.

Analyzing Your Results

  1. Analyze the results you recorded in the data table in your lab notebook. Also analyze any pictures you took or drawings you made of the jars.
    1. Did adding simethicone stop bubbles from forming in the water, or did bubbles still come out of the bottom of the straw?
    2. Did adding simethicone stop bubbles from collecting on the surface of the water?
      1. In other words, did you see a difference in the layer of bubbles at the water's surface of the jar you added simethicone to compared with the jar you did not add simethicone to?
    3. Can you explain your results? If simethicone affected the bubbles, why do you think it did? Hint: For an explanation, you may want to re-read the Introduction in the Background tab.

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