Year 4 students interview COVID-19 anti-microbial material inventor Harrie Schoots

Students from St Andrew’s School were given the opportunity to interview and speak with Harrie Schoots, a textile chemist working for Ascend Performance Materials in America and President-Elect of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (www.aatcc.org) this month. The Year 4 students are currently studying a unit on Materials in Chemistry and Harrie’s specialty field made him the perfect person for the students to talk to.

“It is very important that students make real life connections to their classroom learning.” Ms Carla Moffat, Year 4 teacher said.

Harrie has been working in the apparel and textile industry for over 25 years both in manufacturing and as a specialty chemical supplier. He has patented over a dozen technologies which aim to lower the environmental impact of textile processing. Harrie’s most recent project was inventing a new anti-bacterial/anti-microbial fabric which has just gone on the market in America to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Students spoke to Harrie during two different sessions via Skype. The Year 4 classes brainstormed a list of questions to ask Harrie about his background, why he chose to be a scientist, how people process colour and how he invented the anti-microbial material, Acteev Protect™. Harrie explained what his role as a textile chemist looks like, saying it’s much like being an artist in addition to a scientist. He is inspired to create an industry that is as environmentally sustainable as possible. In his role, he has saved trillions of litres of water, through innovation and refined processes that demand less water and have less impact on our resources. Harrie also explained how people process colour, the dyeing process of fabric in the industry and how he used a zinc element in creating his anti-microbial material to the students.

“I am drawn to sharing textile chemistry and apparel science with students because it’s such a rare skill set, yet we all wear clothes!” Mr Schoots said.

Its important students, who eventually become consumers themselves, become educated in how the textile industry impacts the environment and how they can learn to reduce negative impacts through their buying habits.”

Retailers and brands are listening, and when consumers speak, either literally or with their wallet, they will implement change to satisfy a consumer request”

After this session, the students were given an opportunity to reflect on their learnings including what they learnt with students saying, “I learned that zinc can kill viruses because the virus thinks the zinc is good for it and different types of fabric can have a different result to the virus. Changing fabric is a science but also an art.”

Many students also found the presentation inspirational saying “He inspired me to help people and animals” and “He inspired me to be a scientist”.

During Harrie’s second session, students from other Year levels were invited to attend. Harrie spoke exclusively about his anti-bacterial/anti-microbial fabric which COVID-19 cannot survive on. Masks are currently being produced and sold using this fabric at www.blendedhuemanity.com.

This was a one of a kind experience for the students who were able to not only hear from a real life scientist but also participate in an interview process from beginning to end.

“Harrie was the right person to inspire the students to not just be the best they can be in their chosen line of work, but to make the world a better place.” Ms Moffat said.

He inspired many of the students in science and additionally, to be a person who cares about people, their impact on the environment and making the world safer in general. His invention of the COVID-19 killing fabric is testament to this.”


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  • St Andrew’s School is a South Australian independent, co-educational specialist primary school providing excellence in education from playgroup through to early years and on to Year 7. Principal Jackie Becher – an International Baccalaureate School – UNESCO Associated School.