Ted’s Emergency No. 2

A few weeks ago, Ted asked Pearl class for our help as he needed a new umbrella as he had got really wet in the rain. We tested lots of materials to see if they were waterproof. Click here to see our previous post – What an emergency!

This week, Ted has been back in touch and gave us a new problem to deal with. All the heavy rain that we have had recently have caused his house to flood and he has big puddles in his house. Our task was to find the best material Ted could use to make a mop. We were looking for the best material that we could find to soak up water and help Ted to get rid of the puddles.

We had lots of materials to choose from: cotton wool, tin foil, paper towel, sponge, bubble wrap and cloth.

Which one do you think that will be the best? 

We went away and made a prediction about which one we thought would be the best. We tried hard to be fantastic scientists and use the conjunction because to give a reason for our predictions. We then all came back to the carpet to look at the predictions that we had made. We made a tally chart on the board to see which material was the most and least popular from the predictions. As a class, we thought that bubble wrap would soak up the water the best.

We thought about fair testing and we agreed that we would only change the materials and keep everything else the same. We had to make sure that we used the same amount of water each time otherwise this wouldn’t have been a fair test!

Then we worked in groups to test the materials. The best bit was when we poured water on the tables to make a puddle. Miss Varley wouldn’t normally let us do this!


When we had finished, we found that we were surprised by our results. The materials that didn’t work with the tin foil and the bubble wrap. We spoke about how they didn’t let the water in so they must be waterproof. The materials that did soak up the water were cotton wool, paper towels, sponge and cloth. Overall we decided that the best materials were sponge and cloth because we could squeeze the water out and reuse them. The paper towel tore when it was wet and the cotton wool did soak up the water, it didn’t go back to its normal shape. We started to use a new word to describe how a material soaked up water – absorbency.

How to continue the learning at home:

  • Look at the different objects you have around the home and see what they are made of.
  • What other ways can you use materials for different purposes?
  • Find out who made different materials. Click here to learn about tarmac.

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