Questions for ‘New cloth cools you when you’re hot and warms you when you’re cool’

a photo of a fireman dressed in fire gear. He is sitting on a fire engine and sweating profusely. He looks miserable and very hot.

Sweat evaporates from this firefighter, carrying heat away from his skin, which cools him down. This process of sweat’s water changing from liquid to vapor is one common example of a “phase-change.” Firefighters are among workers who might appreciate the new fabric.

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To accompany New cloth cools you when you’re hot and warms you when you’re cool’ 


Before Reading:

  1. Consider a glass of water. If you wanted to force the liquid water to become gas, what would you do? What would you do to change the water to a solid form? What one thing must be either added or removed to change water this way from one state of matter to another?
  2. What is a polymer? If you aren’t sure, do a quick search on the Science News for Students website. Imagine a student is trying to explain what a polymer is to their best friend. Why might this student use a strand of beads to represent a polymer during their explanation? How is a strand of beads similar in structure to a polymer?

During Reading:

  1. Other than regulating temperature, what are two other things this new fabric can do?
  2. What is one example of water going through a “phase-change?” 
  3. What two ingredients constitute the ink used for printing the new fabric? 
  4. Between what two phases does this new fabric change? In what temperature range does the fabric phase-change occur? 
  5. According to the study, how much energy in joules does one gram of this phase-change fabric absorb? 
  6. For what type of situation does Byron Jones suggest the phase-change material might prove helpful? 
  7. Why does Sergio Granados-Focil think gloves might be one useful application of this fabric?

After Reading:

  1. Make a list of all the special traits of this new cloth. Which special ability do you find the most interesting? What might be a good application for this type of cloth? Design an invention using this fabric. The fabric can use all the abilities listed above, or only a few. While your invention could be an article of clothing, it doesn’t have to be. Draw your invention using markers or colored pencils. Use arrows and text bubbles to answer the following three questions. How would this item be used? What would it do? Who might use this invention?
  2. How did the addition of carbon nanotubes contribute to this fabric’s usefulness? To what special abilities did their presence contribute? Research carbon nanotubes. What do they look like? What other applications might they have other than in making the new fabric described in this story?