About

Nappy Science Gang is a citizen science project run by cloth nappy users who want to find scientific answers to questions about cloth nappies.
It is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

What has been happening? 

LOADS!

Nappy Science Gang investigated detergent, temperature and strip washing and discovered a mineral exoskeleton in our nappies that no-one predicted. Apatite for Destruction is currently investigating that mineral, and soon Parenting Science Gang will begin, because ‘parenting is always an experiment, so why not collect the data?

Tell me more 

Nappy Science Gang ran from March to November 2015 and was funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Our citizen scientists debated research questions, designed experiments, conducted live chats with experts, conducted experiments at home, commissioned professional lab tests and much much more.

Want to to know what we found out? Well you can read the results of our detergent, temperature and strip-washing experiments here.

Apatite for Destruction’ funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry runs from September 2016 to February 2017. In the course of our investigations last year , we found some nappies with an ‘exoskeleton’ of hydroxyl apatite (a mineral found in bones and teeth!). 20% of the weight of the dry nappy was made up of this mineral. The technician who did the test said he had never seen or even heard of an ash value that high. 1-2% might be more normal. 3-4% would be a high value.

No-one had predicted this result; but our (mostly non-science trained) volunteers dug around, asked questions, talked about what they wanted to know about, and that is how we came to be doing scientific tests on smelly nappies and discovering what seems to be an unknown phenomenon. Yay for citizen science!

So we want to investigate it and find out what the hell is going on, what causes it, whether it happens anywhere else, and how to prevent it or remove it. Read more about the project here or join us!

What next?  

The Wellcome Trust have decided to give a Society Award to Nappy Science Gang phase two – provisionally titled Parenting Science Gang. (Proposed slogan: Parenting is always an experiment, so why not collect the data?). Read more here.

What do you mean, citizen science project?

Citizen science loosely means that non-scientists are involved in ‘doing some science’. Usually this means that volunteers help collect data, or interpret it (e.g. The Big Garden BirdwatchGalaxy Zoo, or fold.it), in experiments that professional scientists have chosen and designed. These projects are great, as far as they go, but it’s still scientists in the driving seat and members of the public are just helping them achieve their goals. Nappy Science Gang goes a step further. Volunteers come up with the questions they want to answer, they work out how they might answer those questions and design their own experiments. And then they do the experiments. All of those stages are part of doing science. Our volunteers will get advice from professional scientists, and some tests will have to be done in a lab, but it’s the volunteers setting the agenda and choosing what questions they want to answer. Why? Because what better way to get science doing stuff that’s relevant to people? And what better way to engage people with what science really is?

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2 thoughts on “About

  1. Eek! How exciting is this project!! I am trying to decide if I have enough time to apply for the job, but will certainly spread the word. Am very interested in the balanitis question as both my boys got, the youngest if I put him in cloth overnight for more than a couple of days at a time (the doctor diagnosed ammoniacal dermatitis as the cause?!) Good luck!

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