Materials World Modules

An Inquiry & Design-Based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Program

Mini Biodegradable Materials Module

Processing Biodegradable Materials and Comparing their Mechanical Properties
Measuring Degradation Rates

Design Project
Designing a Medicine Delivery Device

Through the following key select activities, students make, test, and evaluate biodegradable films and gels. They use their knowledge to design devices that release a dye in a controlled manner as they degrade.

MWM will give students an opportunity to understand the world around them in a way they have never experienced before. The modules promote an awareness of the roles science and technology play in society and guide students to take increased control of their work.

Module At-a-Glance

Module At-a-Glance

Activity 3: Processing Biodegradable Materials and Comparing Their Mechanical Properties
Students process gelatin, a biodegradable material, into a gel and into two films that vary in density. They discover how these materials vary in strength and compressibility.

Activity 4: Measuring the Degradation Rates of Biodegradable Materials
Environmental conditions can affect the rate at which a biodegradable material breaks down. Students test the effect of pH and temperature on the degradation rates of the gel, films, and other materials they worked with in the previous Activity.

Design Project 1: Designing a Medicine-Delivery Device
Students use what they learned about the processing and degradation of biodegradable materials to develop a model of a medicine-delivery device, which they enter in a contest. Students use gelatin to make the device, and a dye is used in place of medicine. During the contest, students' devices will be tested in a warm acid solution, which simulates conditions in the human stomach.

Connecting to Your Curriculum

Connecting to Your Curriculum

Materials World Modules are designed to be easily incorporated into any middle school science or high school science lab or lecture course. The chart below lists the subjects covered in the Activity and Design Project sections of this module.

Physics & Physical Science

  • Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Forces (Tensile and Compressive Forces)

Geology & Earth Science

  • Geochemical Cycles
  • Ground Water
  • Acid Rain

Language Arts

  • Writing a report
  • Public speaking


  • Structure of Molecules
  • Compounds
  • Polymers
  • Bonding
  • Hydrogen Bonds
  • Van der Waals Forces
  • Ionic Bonds
  • Covalent Bonds
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Solutions (Acids and Bases)


  • Measuring
  • Graphing (Making and Interpreting)
  • Computing
  • Averages
  • Rates
  • Percentages

Biology and Life Science

  • Cell Structure and Function
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Ecosystems
  • Cycles
  • Decomposing
  • Environmental Pollution

Technical Education

  • Designing and Drafting
  • Materials
  • Plastics

Video Clips

Video Clips

Sharon McCoy talks about the Biodegradable Materials Module

View Youtube video

Material Data Safety Sheets

Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) have valuable information concerning substances used in this MWM kit.

Bag, Quart Size

Biodegradable Peanuts

Non-Biodegradable Peanut

@ Materials World Modules