Paper Towel Science Project

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Does Price Indicate How Absorbent Paper Towels Are?

Problem statement:
The purpose of this experiment is to determine if the price of paper towels reflects the absorbency of the paper towels. Relevance:
I became interested in this idea while trying to save money on my grocery bill. If the cheaper paper towels work just as well or better, I can save money by purchasing them. The information gained from this experiment can help consumers get the best absorbency for the lowest price. Literature Review:

While doing research on how to best design my paper towel experiment, I came across two other experiments that were relevant to mine. The first was a diaper absorbency experiment conducted by Vanessa W. in 1999 to determine which brand of diaper was the most absorbent. She used the same concept I will be using in my experiment by using water to test absorbency and measuring the amount of water left after each test. The second was a paper towel absorbency experiment conducted by Samantha P. in 2000. This experiment is very similar to the one I will be conducting, except she used a different measuring tool and method than I will be.

Experimental Design:
I will use 20 paper towels (4 different brands, 5 of each brand) folded in half four times each, 4 identical measuring cups that measure up to 150 ml. (one for each brand of paper towel), 1 timer, 1 notepad, 1pencil, and room temperature water. 1. First gather all of the materials that you need.

2. Then pour 120 milliliters of water into the measuring cup you are using. 3. Fold one of the first brand of paper towels in half four times. 4. Place the paper towel in the measuring cup.

5. Time for 15 seconds.
6. After 15 seconds, take the paper towel out of the measuring cup. 7. Hold over measuring cup until paper towel stops dripping. 8. Record how much water is left in the measuring cup.
9. Take the amount of water left in measuring cup and subtract that from 120 milliliters. 10. Repeat steps 1-9 four more times with first brand.
11. Next, repeat steps 1-10 for each of the other three brands of paper towel.  12. Make sure that the water doesn’t spill or you will have to restart the test. 13. Record all data on your data sheet.

I chose this experiment design because it is easy and accurate.


The constants or controlled variables in this experiment will be: the size of each brand of paper towel, the number of times each paper towel is folded, the temperature of the water used, and the amount of water in each measuring cup in each test.

The independent variable will be the different brands of paper towels tested.

The dependent variable will be the amount of water left in each measuring cup after each test.

To measure the responding variable I will use a measuring cup. I will measure in milliliters.

Threat Reduction:

I will reduce the threat to internal validity by keeping several variables constant. I will use the same size paper towel folding the same number of times in each test. I will use the same amount of water at the same temperature for each test.


My hypothesis is that the more expensive brands will absorb more liquid then the cheaper brands.

I base my hypothesis on my past experience of using more expensive paper towels to clean up liquid spills around my home.

Data Collection Process:

I gathered my 4 brands of paper towels (Viva $2 per roll, Dollar General Brand $1.50 per roll, Sparkle $1 per roll, and Bounty $2.25 per roll) and my 4 identical measuring cups together.

After opening the paper towels, I separated 5 of each brand from the rolls.

I poured 120 milliliters of room temperature water into each of my 4 measuring cups. I folded one of each brand of paper towel in half four times.

One at a time, I placed a paper towel into water. Timed 15 seconds and removed from water. I held paper towel over measuring cup until it stopped dripping...
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