Sock Science Activity

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Updated on Sep 6, 2013

Why do sheep never catch colds? It's because of their warm, woolly coats! This is just a joke of course, but there's a bit of truth to this tale. Hikers and mountain climbers generally wear clothing made of wool, because of wool's unique characteristics. It can absorb up to one-third of its weight in water, while still keeping the body warm. Invite your child to test this phenomenon by performing a wool and synthetic sock comparison!

What You Need:

  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Wool sock
  • Synthetic sock 

What You Do:

  1. Have your child fill the large bowl with water. This will be the site of her experiment.
  2. Invite her to thoroughly soak both socks in water!
  3. Ask her to wring the socks out into the bowl.
  4. Have your child close her eyes while you help her put on both socks.
  5. With her eyes closed, encourage her to pay attention to her sensory observations. Ask her how each sock feels. Does one foot feel warmer? Is one significantly colder or just slightly cooler?
  6. Your child probably discovered that the foot with the wool sock felt warmer! Water and wool have a fascinating relationship. When first immersed, wool resists saturation. But after it’s soaked, it usually stays wet.

What's Happening?

Water and wool have a fascinating relationship! When it is first immersed in water, it resists saturation. However, after it becomes soaked, it usually stays wet. Amazingly, though it tends to not feel cold!

Wool is an incredibly useful fiber that doesn’t just keep you warm. Much like other insulators, such as Styrofoam, wool contains little pockets of air that keep you warm or cool, depending on the weather.