Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Charlotte. Charlotte Wonders, “What makes duct tape sticky?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Charlotte!

In kitchen drawers and garages all over the United States, one item sits at the ready to fix any number of problems. Is it scissors? A wrench? Maybe a saw? None of the above! We’re talking about the tool that people reach for over and over again for small repairs of all types: duct tape.

Duct tape is a durable tape with a sturdy backing that resists water. It’s the go-to repair tool for millions of people. Any time you need a flexible, sturdy, and sticky tape, just reach for a roll of duct tape! It can fix everything from cars and clothing to air ducts and leaky water pipes.

Duct tape was invented during World War II. A factory worker named Vesta Stout made ammunition boxes during the war. She had an idea to seal the ammunition boxes with a strong, cloth-based, waterproof tape. She wrote to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A few weeks later, she learned that Johnson & Johnson would begin making the tape.

This original duct tape was army green. Soldiers soon learned that it had more than one use. They used it for tents, vehicle seats, and even their own uniforms. After the war, Johnson & Johnson began to sell the tape to the public. Returning soldiers introduced it to many people back home, and duct tape soon became popular across the United States.

One of the first uses for the tape was to repair or seal the ductwork in home heating and cooling systems. To match the color of ductwork, the company changed the color of the tape to silver and began to call it duct tape.

Have you ever heard duct tape called “duck tape“? Soldiers gave it this nickname because of the tape‘s ability to repel water, just like duck feathers. Others think this name came from another tape called cotton duck tape. Regardless, the name caught on. Today, there’s even a brand of duct tape called Duck®!

If you’re wondering how many ducks it takes to make a roll of tape, the answer is zero! No ducks were harmed in the production of either duct tape or Duck®-brand duct tape!

What makes duct tape so strong? It’s made of three layers. The bottom layer is a strong rubber-based adhesive. The middle layer is a web of cloth fabric that adds durability. The top layer is soft, waterproof plastic.

Despite its strength, duct tape is easily torn by hand. This makes it very useful in repairs since one person can quickly and easily work with the tape without the help of others.

Today, duct tape comes in many colors and patterns. Each year, stores sell enough duct tape to wrap around the Earth 12 times! It’s still used for repairs. Duct tape is also used in many crafts today. People use it to make flowers, wallets, and even clothing!

Have you ever used duct tape? What new uses can you think of? You just might be the next person to find a new purpose for the popular tape!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

Wonder What's Next?

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