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Puzzling, Twisted Fibers Mark as Favorite (2 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Interdisciplinary, Polymers. Last updated August 30, 2022.


In this activity, students will attempt to solve clues related to the chemistry of fabrics. Starting at the center of the maze, students will fill in each word suggested by the 20 given clues. Answering each clue correctly will help students solve the riddle provided at the end of the activity. This puzzle can be used in the classroom as part of the Fabulous Fibers theme celebration for 2022 National Chemistry Week.

Grade Level

High School and Middle School


By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • Recognize that there is a real-world connection between chemistry and fabrics.
  • Understand that there are two main types of fibers, natural and synthetic, which are both made up of different polymers.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports students’ understanding of:

  • Real-World Connections
  • Interdisciplinary Topics
  • Polymers


Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 15-20 minutes


  • Student Handout


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • This puzzle was created to appear in the September 2022 ChemFun section of Chemistry Solutions.
  • This puzzle was developed in hopes of being used in chemistry classrooms to promote the ACS National Chemistry Week 2022 theme Fabulous Fibers: The Chemistry of Fabrics.
  • Many of the clues used in creating this puzzle came from the wonderful articles that appear in the 2022 issue of Celebrating Chemistry. The articles are appropriate for students, so teachers might consider using them as readings or direct students to them for research as needed. 
  • Additionally, teachers may wish to add extra letters to the puzzle if they anticipate that students might benefit from some additional hints.
  • A word bank could be provided for students that might require extra assistance to complete the puzzle.  
  • An Answer Key has been provided for teacher reference.

For the Student


Start in the center of the maze and twist and turn as you fill in the words suggested by each clue. As the letters are entered for each answer be sure to twist the puzzle and follow the directional arrows provided (not all words will be written from right to left!)

Several letters have been provided for you in the puzzle as hints.

Then, use the letters appearing in the highlighted squares in the order that they appear to solve the riddle at the end of the activity!


1. A spinning wheel is used to ______ fibers into yarn. This process can be used to influence its properties.

2. If a fabric needs to be water repellent, then the fibers should have __________ properties.

3. Depending on the strength of attraction between _____ molecules and the fabric, clothes can be brightly colored or appear dull.

4. Forensic scientists can use a burn test to identify fabrics related to a crime. One down side of this testing is that it _______ the evidence.

5. Nylon is the fabric of choice for many water ________ items.

6. & 7. Recycled ______ bottles labeled with number ______ can be reused as polyester fibers and fabrics.

8. Fibers are made up of very long molecules called _______.

9. & 10. A synthetic fiber called Nomex is used in _______ for fire fighters, as well as protective gloves in the kitchen thanks to its _____ resistant properties.

11. This fiber is know for its comfortability, used commonly in jeans and shirts.

12. Fiber analysis is conducted by _______ scientists in criminal cases.

13. & 14. Fibers can be found in nature, sourced from _______ and/or _________.

15. Fibers created by using natural resources though chemical synthesis are called _________ fibers.

16. “Hook and loop” tape isn’t sticky like scotch tape. You can usually find it on children’s shoes. It’s most commonly referred to as _________.

17. ______ is a strong, smooth, shiny and expensive fabric made from insect cocoons.

18. A synthetic fiber known for its stretchiness.

19. This fiber helps to keep people feeling warm. Commonly used in hats, scarves, sweaters and socks.

20. When a fabric has the ability to pull water from a surface and hold it, this property is known as ________.


What happened when the fiber scientists tried to come up with a new joke?