Identifying fibers can
be helpful to determine where the fabric came from. This is part
of forensic science that can help determine where a fiber may have originated
from. In this activity the students will learn about how paper is
made, but they will also be able to identify the fibers that their household
has. Encourage students to bring lint from home so they can make
paper from their own fibers. You may want students to make the paper
at home and then bring it in. This is a messy activity, but fun!
Discuss the process of paper-making,
emphasizing that most paper is crushed together, and not woven like a fabric.
You may want to list the many paper products the students use everyday.
For instance, writing paper, toilet paper, paper towels, cardboard, newspaper,
paper plates, and many more. This activity discusses how to
make paper. Follow the directions below. Each student can make
their own piece of paper.
- Put lint in
a bowl. Cover the lint with water. Beat the mixture with a
fork and fingers. Try to mix the lint and water as evenly as possible.
Then add the laundry starch and stir.
- Do this quickly, before
the lint settles.
- Dip one end of the wire
screen into the water. Slip the screen flat under the water's surface.
Then lift it out of the water, keeping it flat. Allow most of the
water to drain through. It should be covered with an even layer of
lint. If it isn't, slip it back under the water's surface after stirring
the mixture in the bowl with your hand. Try again.
- The layer of lint fibers
will become your paper. Put the screen, fiber side up, on three or
four sheets of folded newspaper. Cover it with a few more sheets
of folded newspaper. Roll the pile with the rolling pin. You are
squeezing the water out. Gently peel off the top layers of the newspaper.
Your sheet of lint paper should be sticking to it. Let it dry.
Peel the newspaper off after it dries. You now have a piece of paper.
(Actually it looks more like cardboard.)
- Go over the lab procedure
carefully with students. Stress that the lint must be evenly mixed
and the importance of draining off the water as much as possible before
placing the screen with the lint between the newspaper layers. After
the students look at the paper under the microscope, see if they can identify
different types of fibers. Remember if a household has cats or dogs
their hair will be incorporated into the paper.