What you need:
- one 12" x 12" sample of each of the following: red felt, white felt, blue felt, 100% cotton white fabric
- bowl of hot water
- sunny window
What to do:
1. Discuss famous flags from U.S. history with your child — the Betsy Ross flag and the flag that inspired the national anthem, among others. Does your child know that it takes a lot of work to keep these flags from falling apart?
2. Help your child get ready to start the experiment in which he will discover how best to preserve certain kinds of material that might be in a flag. Begin by cutting each fabric sample into six pieces.
3. Create six piles so that each pile contains one sample of each fabric (one piece of red felt, one piece of blue felt, etc.).
4. One pile will be the "control" pile. Nothing will be done to those pieces so that they can be used for comparison.
5. Try a different treatment on each of the remaining piles:
- Pile 1: Soak each piece of fabric in hot water, then allow to dry.
- Pile 2: Rub each piece five times with sandpaper.
- Pile 3: Sprinkle dirt on each piece.
- Pile 4: Place each piece of fabric on a sunny windowsill and leave for at least one week.
- Pile 5: Stretch each piece.
6. Compare each piece of fabric that was treated with its comparison piece from the "control" pile. What caused the most damage to the material? Which seemed more damaged: felt or cotton? What recommendations would you make to someone trying to preserve a flag?