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Can't Do a Thing with Your Hair? Think Again!

based on 9 ratings
Author: Judee Shipman
Type

Life Science

Grade Level

5-8

Difficulty Level

Medium

Cost

Minimal

Safety Issues

Use rubber gloves when dealing with harsh chemicals.  Adult supervision recommended.

Project Time Frame

2-4 weeks

Objective

This project deals with the properties and practical uses of hair.

Project Goals
  • To examine the effect of external influences (such as chemicals and environmental conditions) on human hair.  
  • To discover interesting new uses for hair.
  • To assist in the development of improved hair-care products.

Materials and Equipment

  • Hair samples from volunteers
  • Various inexpensive chemical substances and food products
  • Computer with internet access.
  • Digital camera
  • Magnifying glass
  • Microscope (optional)
  • Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board)

Introduction

Why do we care about hair?  We can live without it, yet it remains so important to us.  We consider it a measure of human beauty, the color and texture and style of one’s hair.  Even discarded human hair has many useful purposes.  These experiments might teach us more.

Research Questions
  • What are the various uses for human hair?
  • What determines hair color?
  • What causes changes in hair?
  • Can hair predict the weather?
  • How common are natural redheads?
  • Why is hair considered so important in our society?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research

See bibliography below

Experimental Procedure

  1. Read about hair (see bibliography).
  2. Recruit volunteers with all different types of hair.
  3. Collect several hair samples from each volunteer (a typical sample might be about ½” wide and 6” long).
  4. Securely tape samples to a display board.
  5. Leave one sample from each volunteer untouched, and record any changes in those samples over time.
  6. Expose other samples to various elements, such as bleach, oil, sunlight, or different types of hair care products.  Use your imagination when selecting these materials.
  7. Photograph all samples over time (every 24 hours for 1-2 weeks) and record all noticeable changes in color, texture, etc.
  8. Attempt to rinse some samples and photograph them again.
  9. Analyze results.
  10. Interpret findings in a detailed report.
  11. Show results visually using charts and hair samples.
  12. Display relevant photos taken throughout the course of the experiment.

Bibliography

"Hairs and Nails" by Rakesh Halen FYSIKBASEN.DK  (Measure the width of a hair) Wiki article entitled “Hair

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