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Newsletter – July 2010

We’ve recently published a new focus story – Wool innovations – showcasing new textiles developed at AgResearch and featured in a catwalk show at the 2008 New Zealand Fashion Week. Also, watch out for another focus story to be added later in the term – Easy care sheep. It looks at developing a more cost-effective sheep using selective breeding.

We hope you enjoy using these resources and exploring others on the Biotechnology Learning Hub.

What's new on the Hub?

Wool innovations – Focus story
Scientists at AgResearch in New Zealand have developed innovative wool textiles meeting consumer demand for more functional fabrics and creating new opportunities for textile products using wool. This focus story showcases 2 of these new fabrics – Natural Easy Care (NEC) fabrics and a stab and flame-resistant fabric.

Developing Natural Easy Care fabrics – Information sheet
Wool faces tough competition from the continuous development of lighter weight synthetic fibres, some of which have similar comfort properties to wool. For the wool industry to remain viable, researchers needed to develop new fabrics to meet changing consumer needs. Lightweight, easy care wool fabrics have been made possible by new developments in spinning technology, and they’re meeting demand for more functional fabrics.

Developing new stab and flame-resistant fabric – Information sheet
When AgResearch purchased a new type of machine – a Fibreknit machine – scientists began exploring different types of fabrics they could make on it. An idea to trial a high-strength cut-resistant yarn combined with short wool fibres initiated the research and development of a new lightweight, comfortable stab and flame-resistant fabric.

Wool fibre structure and properties – Interactive
Students can use this interactive to explore wool’s unique cellular structure and understand how this contributes to its valuable properties.

Teaching activities

New opportunities for protective wear – Unit plan
In this unit, students consider the performance properties of new stab and flame-resistant fabric and design protective wear for new market opportunities. The unit links to video clips and information sheets about developing, making and testing the fabric. Suitable for upper primary and secondary students.

Exploring wool fibre properties – Student activity
In this activity, students explore the microstructure of wool fibre and how it relates to the properties and uses of wool. This will help students understand how the microstructure of wool creates its properties and determines its suitability for particular products.

Biotech news articles

Keep up to date with the latest biotechnology news and events. We add more items regularly, so keep an eye out for these. You could use these articles as lesson starters, extension activities or to promote discussion of possible ethical issues these new technologies may raise. Try using the Ethics thinking tool to help you explore ethical issues with your students using a structured framework.

Detecting energy in food may be a sixth sense – News item
Researchers have shown for the first time that the mere presence of carbohydrate solution in the mouth immediately boosts muscle strength, even before it is swallowed.

New sleep-enhancing milk – News item
A New Zealand company developed a milk powder after discovering some cows carry peptides in their milk that cause sleepiness. The milk powder ensures a better night’s sleep and is selling fast in Taiwan.

Aircraft powered by algae biofuel – News item
European aerospace company EADS is poised to unveil a world first – a ‘hybrid’ aircraft that runs on algae biofuel.

More news and events

We welcome your ideas

We’re keen to hear from teachers using our resources. Email us at enquiries@biotechlearn.org.nz if you have any questions, comments or feedback about the Hub, or complete our online feedback form.

Best wishes,
The Biotechnology Learning Hub team
www.biotechlearn.org.nz

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