Even though it is not yet August, the Florida heat is sweltering. Staying hydrated is key, but you can also stay comfortable outdoors with a neck cooler. The neck cooler helps cool the blood pumping to your head and is a very effective way to prevent heatstroke when you need to be outdoors. This project is also a great beginner sewing project for 4-Hers and volunteers! This project is from the online Maker Movement Magazine. It is also a fun way to tie in the science of hydro-gels polymers. Hydro-gel polymers are long molecule chains that absorb water efficiently and easily. They are used in agriculture to prevent soil erosion, conserve water and even soak up toxic spills from our environment. A great extension of this project would be the Helpful Hydro-gel Experiment by Steve Spangler- the 2008 National 4-H Youth Science Day Experiment.
Here’s what you need to make your neck cooler:
- 1 piece of fabric measuring 36 inches long and 5 inches wide
- 1 tsp of hydro-gels (found in the gardening supply section of your local store)
- Sewing needle (if sewing by hand) or sewing machine
- Iron and ironing board
Fold the piece of fabric lengthwise (right sides together) and press to form a tube. Stitch a 1/2 inch seam across one end and down the length of the fabric. Turn the tube right-side out and press. From the stitched end of the tube, measure 4 1/2 inches and stitch a seam across to make a pocket for the hydro-gels. On the open end of the tube, use a funnel to pour 1 tsp of dry hydro-gel beads inside the pocket. Next, fold the ends of the open tube inside and stitch securely. To activate the gels, simply soak in cool water. Tie around your neck and stay cool!
Other helpful UF IFAS Extension resources: