Where there’s wool, there’s a way to use it.
Pupils at Mt Somers Springburn School have been learning all about wool and its uses. The topic was reinforced by The Wool Shed (a shipping container filled with information, equipment and activities) on site at the school for two weeks and part of their learning about farming and the difference economic uses of land.
Wool is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation.
It is also used in recreation: one sheep fleece can produce 4kg of wool and be used to cover 520 tennis balls. And it’s fire resistant.
All of the school’s 85 pupils from year 1 to 8 spent time learning from the various activities inside the shed. There was a work booklet, videos and tools.
The Wool Shed is sponsored by PGG Wrightson and provides pupils hands-on learning, including taking raw wool, carding it (removing the knots with a comb) and spinning it with a drop spindle to make yarn (loose strands of wool twisted together as a stronger fibre).
A few Mt Somers pupils also spent time with PGG Wrightson wool buyer Doug McKay who visited the school to talk about wool.
Among those pupils were Madaleine Roy, 12, Archie Rooney, 12, Caleb Greer, 11, and Isaac Giera, 10.
They learned about the different breeds of sheep and how their wool was used for different things.
There was room for a lot of cross-subject learning with science, social science, reading, mathematics and science technology just a few of the learnings.
Romney sheep wool was often used to make carpet or curtains and Merino sheep wool was popularly used for clothing; it was softer on the skin than other rougher wools.
Wool was also used in pillows, duvets and insulation and didn’t burn until really hot temperatures.
It is also used in the aviation industry with interior trimmings and sound proofing, clothing such as socks and nightware, uniforms for military, fire and police personnel, medical care with dressings and bandages, and in PPE.
Madaleine and her Year 8 classmates chose to dye the wool using natural products such as beetroot, onion, walnuts, coffee and gorse flowers as natural white wool is easy to dye.
Wool is also waterproof and full of lanolin which is good for cracked skin.
The children also learned about export destinations for New Zealand wool. China took 49.9 per cent of the wool exported, followed by United Kingdom (eight per cent) and Italy (7.6 per cent).
And how a Banks Peninsula farming couple had changed their farm practice from cross bred sheep to a clothing range producing merino wool jerseys initially for schools to fill a need in the market.
– by Toni Williams