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Protecting the Soldier

BACKGROUND: Information about the uniforms on the enclosed list.
For more information on U.S.-Mexican War uniforms, check out these websites:
Uniforms were made out of wool because of the fabric’s properties. When soldiers sweat, wool would wick water away from the skin. If it rained, wool would absorb the water, keeping the soldier warm and dry. Wool burns very slowly. If a spark got on the soldier’s clothing, he could quickly put it out.
o Comes from fleece of sheep, camels, llamas, goats, rabbits
o After cutting off fleece (shearing), it is sorted (graded) by the width and length of the fibers. It is then cleaned of oils, dirt, bugs, and bits of vegetation. The wool is washed and dried, untangled and combed (carded). Finally, it is twisted into yarn for weaving into fabric.
Wool Properties
o Holds a lot of water – absorbent
o Can be used to absorb blood
o Has an odor when wet
o Burns slowly, Ashes break easily
o Smells like burning hair
o Insulates in both cold and hot weather
o Grows from the seeds of the cotton plant as long fibers
o Removed in a cotton gin (engine). The fiber is twisted into yarn and thread. These are woven together to make the fabric.
o Holds a lot of water – 27 times its weight
o Has no odor when wet
o Burns slowly with a bright yellow frame
o Leaves puffy gray ash that breaks easily
o Smells like burning paper
*Information from AIMS Education Foundation 2001 CRAZY ABOUT COTTON
1. Ask students: What do you wear when it rains? Why do you wear those things? List responses.
2. Ask students: Do you ever wear clothes for certain groups, such as band and sports? Why do you think you wear those clothes? (Elicit: protection, allow for movement) List responses.
1. Tell students that they will learn about the properties of wool and cotton, the fabric of the replicas.
2. Define property or have students look up the definition.
3. Ask students: What properties do fabrics have? List responses. (Elicit: absorbency, flammability)
4. Define the following or have students look up the definition.
o Wicking
o Absorbency
o Flammability
5. Tell students that they will test the wicking rate and absorbency of cotton and wool.
6. Split students into groups of four.
7. Hand out the student worksheet Material Properties.
8. Have students predict the description of each property.
9. Tell students that they will do the luster, texture, wicking, and absorbency experiments.
10. Review safety procedures.
11. See Wicking, Absorbency, and Flammability Experiments page to help students conduct the experiments.
12. When finished, have students return the materials.
13. When students are finished, conduct the flammability experiments in a safe area.
14. Have students complete their worksheets.
Wrap-up Activities
1. Tell students: During the Battle of Palo Alto, uniforms protected the soldiers.
2. Pass out the student worksheet Protecting the Soldier.
3. Ask students: Think of the following:
o Wicking Rate
o Absorbency
o Flammability

1. Conduct further tests in the properties of wool and cotton.
2. Research how modern uniforms protect soldiers
3. Have students design their own uniform. Students must explain how the uniform offers protection.
Student Evaluation/Assessment: Observe students during the tests and for group and class participation.

Comments / Notes