Sunday, October 25, 2009

Silk's Superpower

Scientists are exploring the possibilities of using silk generated by other creatures besides silk worms, specifically spiders. Silk from the caterpillars of the silk moths has been used to make clothing for hundreds of years. It has also been used by surgeons, but some people are allergic to the sticky resin on the fibers. Scientists have experimented with silk from spiders for its strength and elasticity and the fact that humans are not allergic to it. Spider silk is so strong, it is used to make bulletproof vests. There are advantages and disadvantages of using spider silk.

Students can sort the advantages and disadvantages of silk from worms and silk from spiders. They can also design an experiment, using the inquiry process, that scientists could use to determine which type of spider silk is the strongest. To integrate writing, students can write a persuasive essay from the point of view of a spider convincing people who don’t like spiders that they are very useful.

Here is a short video on how a spider makes silk. Spider Silk

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