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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Fashion Invention

Twice a year, New York Fashion Week brings runway shows and presentations to lower Manhattan, providing an opportunity for clothing designers to highlight their unique styles and collections for the next fashion season. During this week each February and September, fashion fans have a front-row seat for cutting-edge designs and creative clothing.

Did you know that science can inspire fashion? From the materials used to the purpose of the clothing, science can play a major role in influencing the design of popular pieces. By following the steps below, you can repurpose a towel to create a one-of-a-kind apron invention!


Materials Needed:

  • Craft items (like construction paper, paint, permanent markers and stickers)
  • Hand towel (one you don’t mind cutting)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scrap paper
  • Stapler
  • String or ribbon


Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Lay your towel on a flat surface with one of the shorter sides facing you.
  2. Cut out the two top corners of the towel.
  3. Cut a piece of ribbon or string approximately 2 feet* long.
  4. Staple each end of the ribbon onto the top two corners of the towel.
  5. Cut two 12-inch pieces of ribbon or string*.
  6. Staple the end of one ribbon to the middle of the left side of the towel, and the end of the other ribbon to the middle of the right side of the towel.
  7. On a piece of scrap paper, sketch ideas to transform your apron into a great invention. Think about the questions below as you brainstorm:
    • Will your apron have special pockets to store items you use every day?
    • Can your apron be an invention that helps with special tasks?
    • Can you add any colors or patterns to personalize your apron?
  8. Bring your sketch to life and design your apron using your craft materials.
  9. Creating can be messy sometimes, so the next time you’re making something new, wear this apron as you experiment! Just slip the top loop of ribbon or string over your head, then tie the two shorter ribbons around your back.

*Measurements might need to be adjusted for a more customized fit.


What Are We Discovering?

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has traditionally had a strong influence on the materials used in the clothing industry.

As National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee Stephanie Kwolek carried out experiments to make stronger and stiffer fibers, she discovered a new branch of polymer science. The most famous product of her discovery was Kevlar® fiber, a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used to make lightweight, bullet-resistant vests and also can be found in mooring ropes, fiber-optic cables, aircraft parts and canoes.


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