Question Sheet: Graphene’s Superstrength


Before reading:

  1. Scientists often talk about carbon. What types of things contain carbon?
  2. The properties of carbon can be changed by temperature and pressure. Give

    some common examples.

  3. What’s the name of the material inside your pencil that allows you to write?

    And what’s this material made from?

During reading:

  1. How much thicker is a piece of paper than a sheet of graphene?
  2. Compare graphene’s strength to that of steel.
  3. Where can you find graphene at school?
  4. How long ago did scientists first isolate graphene?
  5. Besides its strength and thickness, name two other major properties of


  6. How much does graphene cost?
  7. What do “magic liquids” have to do with graphene?

After reading:

  1. Why are scientists especially excited about using graphene for electronics?

    (Hint: How might size fit into this?)

  2. Using what you’ve learned from the story, why do you think graphene is

    likely to change electronics in the next five years — or not? Explain your


  3. The author describes graphene as being a “wonder material.” Is this a

    reasonable description or an exaggeration? Explain your assessment.

  4. Scientists had thought they might be able to make supersmall circuitry with

    carbon nanotubes. Why does graphene look even more promising? (Hint: You can

    learn more at Science News. See:


  1. If graphene is in pencil lead and other common materials, why does

    research-grade graphene cost so much?

  2. Diamonds are a special form of carbon that can be found only in a few

    isolated deposits around the globe. What about graphene? How widely available is

    this type of carbon for mining? (Hint: Where does pencil lead come from?)


  1. Write new lyrics to a popular song (for instance: “Somewhere Over the

    Rainbow,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” or some theme from a popular TV show) that

    explain the many special features of graphene.

  2. If you were offered a pound of graphene sheets or a diamond the size of

    your fist, which would you choose? And what would you do with it? Explain your

    answer—and reasoning—in three paragraphs.