Annex A - Group Research Proposal

Group Project Proposal (Science)
Names: Chelsea, Erica, Ao Shen
Class: S2-05
Group Reference: A / B / C / D / E / F / G / H   

1.    Indicate the type of research that you are adopting:

[ ] Test a hypothesis: Hypothesis-driven research
e.g. Investigation of the anti-bacteria effect of chrysanthemum

[ ] Measure a value: Experimental research (I)
e.g. Determination of the mass of Jupiter using planetary photography

[ X ] Measure a function or relationship: Experimental research (II)
e.g. Investigation of the effect of temperature, on the growth of crystals

[ ] Construct a model: Theoretical sciences and applied mathematics
e.g. Modeling of the cooling curve of naphthalene 

[ ] Observational and exploratory research
e.g. Investigation of the soil quality in School of Science and Technology, Singapore  

[ ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research
e.g. Development of a SMART and GREEN energy system for households  

2.    Write a research proposal of your interested topic in the following format:

Title: An investigation of the factors that affect the strength of gelatin used in casing of capsules for medication.

A.    Question being addressed

A student wanted to find out what conditions are the best for making the strongest gelatin.

We wanted to find out how different factors affect the strength of gelatin that is usually used in medical capsules.

Background research
Gelatin is a staple ingredient used in the making of capsules and jelly, giving these items the ability to have a strong wobble and a strange transparent look to them. But what exactly makes it wobble like that? Well, research shows it is made of collagen, a fibrous protein that makes up almost one-third of the human body's proteins. It strengthens the body's connective tissues, allowing them to be elastic and stretch without breaking easily.

However, gelatin is unable to be dissolved by water in its natural state. Because of this, it must be first dissolved by a strong acid or base, followed by boiling, washing and filtering. During these processes, it is slowly broken up into pieces until it ends up as a gelatin solution. The solution is chilled into a jelly-like material, cut, then dried under special conditions. The product is ground once it is ready.

At room temperature, the gelatin protein purchased is in the form of a triple helix. This is a fairly ordered structure in contrast with DNA. In DNA, two chains of nucleotides are twisted together in a spiral pattern resembling a ladder, in a design known as a double helix. In the gelatin protein, three separate chains of amino acids (called polypeptide chains) have lined up and twisted around each other. Those amino acids are mostly glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Weak bonds hold the helix together.

In order to make the usual gelatin, hot water is added to the powder and stirred.The energy of the heated water breaks the weak bonds that hold the gelatin strands together. The helical structure unwinds, and you're left with free-floating protein chains. When you add cold water and refrigerate the gelatin mixture, the chains begin slowly to reform into the tight triple helix structure. As it cools, the mass acts like a sponge, soaking up the water you added. But in some places, there are gaps in the helix, and in others, there is a tangled web of polypeptide chains. The chains form a sort of net, and the net traps water inside pockets between the chains.

Problem with Gelatin Capsules
There are two kinds of capsules: hard ones and soft ones. The kind of capsule used is dependent on the kind of drug being administered. Powdered medicine is put in hard capsules, which is made only when the medicine will dissolve easily in the stomach. Medicine like oils is put in soft capsules, which is made so that the capsule shell will melt within minutes in the stomach.

The problem is the capsules must be made under very different conditions, as the hard capsules must be made with hard gelatin and the soft capsules must be made with soft gelatin. These conditions must be met in order to create the right kind of gelatin for the different types of capsules.

The independent variables are temperature, the amount of stirring of the mixture and the powder-water ratio.

The dependent variable is the crushing weight which the gelatin produced can take, which will be tested by placing weights on top of the gelatin until it breaks.

The constants are:
(a)  The volume of the mixture in each container
(b)  The type and brand of gelatin used
(c)  The material of the containers used
(d)  The number of containers of gelatin being tested at a time
(e)  The shape of the containers used    

B.    Hypotheses

The hypotheses are:
-The lower the temperature of the fridge, the stronger the gelatin produced is.
-As the number of times the mixture is stirred increases, the weaker the gelatin produced is.
-The more powder used in the mixture, the weaker the gelatin produced is.

C.    Description in detail of method or procedures (The following are important and key items that should be included when formulating ANY AND ALL research plans.)

Equipment list: 

Making of gelatin

Strength test 

(Setup for experiment, excluding the refrigerator.)

Procedures: Detail all procedures and experimental design to be used for data collection

1.    Set up the experiment as shown in the diagram above.
2.    Pour 30 grams of gelatin powder into three separate bowls. We will refer to the first bowl as A, the second as B, the third as C. Pour 50 grams and 70 grams of gelatin powder into another two more bowls. The bowl with 50 grams of powder will be referred to as D and the one with 70 grams of powder will be referred to as E.
3.   Add 150 ml of pure water into all of the bowls.
4.    Stir all of the bowls 70 times.
5.    Pour 50 ml of Bowl A’s mixture into three containers each. By now, Bowl A should be almost empty.
6.    Pour 50 ml of Bowl B’s mixture into a container.
7.    Stir Bowl B’s mixture another 15 times.
8.    Pour 50 ml of Bowl B’s newer mixture into a container.
9.    Stir Bowl B’s mixture another 15 times.
10.  Pour 50 ml of Bowl C’s mixture into a container.
11.  Pour 50 ml of Bowl D’s mixture into a container.
12.  Pour 50 ml of Bowl E’s mixture into a container.
13.  Put the containers containing 50 ml of Bowl A’s, 50 ml of Bowl B’s, 50 ml of Bowl C’s, 50 ml of Bowl D’s and 50 ml of Bowl E’s mixture into one refrigerator set to 25˚C.
14.  Put one container containing 50 ml of Bowl A’s mixture into one refrigerator set to 15˚C.
15. Put the last container containing 50 ml of Bowl A’s mixture into the last refrigerator set to 5˚C.
16. Allow a few hours, preferably three to five hours, for all the gelatin mixtures to set.
17. When the all the containers of gelatin have set, take them all out of the fridge.
18. Place 10 gram weights on the surface of the gelatin gradually until the the gelatin breaks.
19. Take note of the number of weights you put on the gelatin.
20. The total mass of the weights used that caused the gelatin to break will be referred to as the crushing weight, which indicates the strength of the gelatin.

• Risk and Safety: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.

1.   People may consume the gelatin by accident. Since we are using a fridge which  is also used for bacteria, consuming the gelatin could be harmful. Our solution to handling this risk is write "DO NOT CONSUME" on the containers we will be using. 

2.    The powder for the gelatin is flammable, which could start fires if we are not careful. Our solution for this is to keep the powder away from any open/naked flames or anything that can create sparks.

3. Since we are using a fridge which  is also used for bacteria, we may get the germs/bacteria on our hands and we might get sick if we consume them while eating or drinking. Our solution for this is to wash our hands with soap after doing the tests.

Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer research questions or hypotheses

1.    Create a table with the crushing weights of each container of gelatin for each factor.
2.    Using the crushing weights of each container of gelatin from the table, plot three graphs for each factor stating the increase or decrease of the crushing weights.
3.    From the graph, we can find out the best conditions to create the strongest gelatin.

Example of graph that can be produced for the data collection. 

D. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major references (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order.

Brinson, L. (n.d.). What exactly is Jell-O made from? - HowStuffWorks. Retrieved January 15, 2015, from

Goodsell, David. "Collagen: April 2000 Molecule of the Month." Protein Data Bank. (Sept. 26, 2011)

GEA Filtration. "Gelatin Processing Aids." (Sept. 24, 2011)

National Institutes of Health. "Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix." Bookshelf: U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. (Sept. 24, 2011)

Senese, Fred. "What's Jell-O™ Made of?" General Chemistry Online. Frostburg State University. (Sept. 26, 2011)

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