Project Cotton – Turning Chemistry into Fun Session

Speaking of making science a fun subject, I recently had to get a class of 5th graders to investigate the chemistry of common materials as a part of their curriculum. So, I simply started off by asking my students “Ever wonder what is that dress you wear made out of?”  What makes one fabric soft and another rough, what makes one garment not absorb the color of any drink you drop on it while the other absorb anything liquid and gets permanently stained?

We addressed this question with a lab session: I taught the students how to compare and contrast non-aqueous substance from water using common lab reagents.  Students used the basic scientific approach to compare the known cotton and test synthetic material, both of which that looked similar. Furthermore, they took great interest in the experiment when I showed them basic laboratory experiments, which need to be conducted to differentiate cotton from other raw material.