Thinking like a scientist with an eye for fashion

Room 1 has been learning to think like scientists, testing the properties of different materials to identify them and observe how they act. Students will use what they learn to design wearable arts outfits based on design briefs.

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To start students had to use their skills of observation and prior knowledge to name a range of fabrics and materials they were shown. They used their senses to help them.

This material feels soft, spongey, and stretchy. It feels like wetsuit material. Can I put water on it to check? 

When looking at leather, Mason said ‘I have smelled this before. It smells like shoes' 

Once students were told what the fabrics were, they had to identify their properties and what a purpose for each one could be.

This looks like what jeans are made of 

This one is shiny and smooth. It could be what dresses are made of 

Polyester doesn’t wrinkle. It flattens back into shape. This would be good for making shirts because you wouldn’t have to iron them

To make identifying purposes of fabrics easier, Room 1 conducted some tests. The first test was about strength. Students had to predict the strength of each fabric. They tested their prediction by making a small cut in their fabric and measuring the amount of force it took to try and tear through it.

During testing, students discussed what some of the materials could be used for based on their results.

Some of the strongest fabrics were nylon and denim. I know denim is tough because it was used to make jeans for people who had to work in factories a long time ago 

I couldn’t rip through the rubber. That's why it’s used to make tough stuff like gumboots and tyres

For the purpose of science, we had a strong-person contest to see who could destroy their piece of Hessian fabric the fastest. 

At the same time, I was looking to see if anyone could recognise the structural elements of this fabric to help them work out the best strategy to use. All students, apart from one, struggled to tear through the fabric.

Ripping through the fabric was too hard because it was criss-crossed together. I wondered what would happen if I tried pulling it apart. It was heaps easier. I was the first one to pull it apart, then everyone copied me 

From this investigation, we learned that the strength of the material depends on the strength of the fibers and how they are put together.

The class tested the absorbency of fabrics and whether or not they leaked, absorbed, or repelled water.  Again, students made predictions first before they tested their thinking. Students had to discuss their findings and what they might mean in terms of fashion design.

Nylon and vinyl repel water, so they would both be great to make jackets out of. I would rather have a nylon jacket, though, because it is more flexible and not so hard

With wool, small drops ran off the top, but when we dunked it in a cup of water, it absorbed water. A woollen top will keep you warm and dry when it is drizzly, but probably not when it’s pouring down

Hessian leaked straight away, but no one would wear it anyway. It’s strong though, so best to use as sacks to carry stuff 

I wonder why her polyester absorbed water and mine repelled it. Maybe mine is mixed with other fabrics 

2024 Morehu

Paul Morehu

I am from Christchurch but moved to Taupō at the end of 2018. I am passionate about travelling with my most memorable trip being to Egypt. I also love keeping fit through sport, the gym and just getting out and exploring the outdoors.

I have been a qualified teacher working in New Zealand since 2013. Prior to that, I spent 8 years in Hong Kong working with Chinese children in primary schools.

I decided to pursue a career in teaching because I loved the idea of making a difference in the world by helping children learn and develop as people. It is rewarding to see the progress children make and to be a part of their learning journeys.


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