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Suck It Up - Wicking

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In this activity you will investigate the "wicking capacity " of fabric; that is how well various fabrics draw water ["perspiration"] away from the body and let it vent to the outside. This is very important to staying warm in the chilly climate of Antarctica!


  • obtain samples of 16 different types of material
  • incubator at 37° C
  • balance
  • elastic bands
  • ruler
  • eye dropper

Your task is to see which of the materials given will provide the best wicking capacity. Your goals are

  • brainstorm to establish what is met by wicking and why it must be looked at in designing insulated underwear.
  • design possible experiments to measure the wicking capacity of various material types.
  • carry out experiments to test the wicking capacity of various materials.
  • arrive at a consensus as to which material has the best wicking capacity and why?

Discussions Questions/Extensions ......
Explain how the data presented in the graphs show which is the best material to be used for wicking.

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