In a class demonstration, the teacher places different pill types ("chalk" pill, gel pill, and gel tablet) into separate glass beakers of vinegar, representing human stomach acid. After 20-30 minutes, the pills dissolve. Students observe which dissolve the fastest, and discuss the remnants of the various pills. What they learn contributes to their ongoing objective to answer the challenge question presented in lesson 1 of this unit.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standard Network (ASN), a project of JES & Co. (www.jesandco.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Click on the standard groupings to explore this hierarchy as it applies to this document.
- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- D. Throughout history, new technologies have resulted from the demands, values, and interests of individuals, businesses, industries, and societies. (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- I. Established design principles are used to evaluate existing designs, to collect data, and to guide the design process. (Grades 9 - 12)  ...show
- Tennessee: Science
- Describe what happens to a pill in the human stomach.
- Explain which pill form is absorbed the fastest.
- 3 small glass beakers
- ~ 2 cups vinegar
- 3 types of pills: chalk, gel capsule, gel tablet
|antibiotic:||A chemical substance used to treat infections by destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms.|
|bacteria:||Single-celled microorganisms that can exist either as independent organisms or as parasites. Singular = bacterium; plural = bacteria.|
- Gather materials on a table that is visible to everyone in the class.
- Fill each beaker with approximately one-quarter cup vinegar (or until beakers are half full).
- Introduce the demo to students using the information in the Introduction/Motivation section.
- Place one pill in each beaker. Note the start time on the clock.
- After several minutes, pick up the beakers and observe any change in color of the vinegar. Also, look for any changes in the pills.
- Consider a pill fully dissolved when the vinegar is clear (this does not include any remaining outer coverings).
- Lead a class discussion. Ask students the Investigating Questions.
- At this point, students should be able to determine what form of medicine to take (the shot) for speed. For homework, as described in Assessment section, assign students to write three suggestions of how to make the medicine work more quickly.
- Which pill form works the fastest? Why? (Answer: Fastest is chalk, then gel capsule, then gel tablet. This is because it takes longer for the gel coating to dissolve enough for the capsule/tablet to release the inner medicine.)
- Which form of medicine (pill, liquid or injection/shot) works the fastest? Why? (Answer: The fastest is medicine injected through a syringe [ a shot].)
- Describe three suggestions of what you might do to get medicine to work more quickly. Provide explanations of why you think they may work. (Answers will vary. Possible answers: 1) move around because increasing your heart rate increases blood flow, 2) eat something because this starts the digestive system, 3) stay warm because this opens the veins more. All of these actions assist your body in absorbing the medicine more quickly, especially pill/liquid forms.)
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2011 Vanderbilt University
VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Last modified: August 31, 2015