Looking for Input

I’m doing a PowerPoint presentation on silk, which is something I’ve never done before – I usually just talk loud and wave my hands and pass around live insects. The live insects are demo rock-stars – everybody loves them. They rock the house.

I have some experience with PowerPoint, but not much. I have a lot of experience giving presentations, just not with the projector part.

This presentation is for a group of about 125 kids; they range in age from first grade to seventh grade.

I’m mostly looking for input on things like type size, does it look too dark, should I use a different transition, that kind of thing.

I haven’t yet talked my way through this completely, to see if it will really take up 30 minutes (I think they really want more like 25 minutes – they have to move the kids in and out).

I will get to spend 20 minutes with each class separately later in the day, and show them things that they can touch and feel, and they get to take home cocoons and silk.

The file is HERE. I know that it’s huge – don’t know if there’s an easy way to scrunch it down, without sacrificing image quality.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

0 replies
  1. zoezebra
    zoezebra says:

    I went through a lot of training in Powerpoint for my MSc- the usual rules are;
    1) Try to keep the number of words per slide below 20.
    2) Stay away from the ‘self-timing’ options for bullet points- triggering them with the space bar will allow you to synchronize your points and your speech (this option is in the Animation Section).
    3) Use a theme, stay away from white and black slides if you can.
    3) Hmmm, don’t know much about giving talks to kids- good luck!

  2. technocowboy
    technocowboy says:

    I would use the same font for that whole image, preferably the one from the lower left corner. I’d drop the point size on “Silk” just a touch and raise the point size on “From Moth to Cloth” a bit. Don’t make them the same size, but just a tiny adjustment.

  3. sunfell
    sunfell says:

    Make sure that you print some of your presentation as a handout for the kids, so they can have something to take home with them. You never know if you might have a young silk enthusiast in your audience!

  4. sunfell
    sunfell says:

    I’d probably also change the font to a simple non-script font, since some of the kids probably won’t be able to read script just yet.

  5. sskipstress
    sskipstress says:

    I finally got to flip through the slideshow…Are you ready for questions from kids about killing the worms/pupae in the cocoons? I don’t think you should leave it out, because you’ll probably get the questions either way, kids are smart. But they’re also more likely to ask for details than adults.

    I like the feeding frenzy animation.

  6. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    I can see you’ve got some good comments here. Good – coz I can’t think of anything (except perhaps too much info on some of the slides) coz I don’t know about this stuff.

    You didn’t illustrate reeled silk vs (um, what’s it called – the silk made from cocoons AFTER the moths have hatched) – just the reeled.

    I enjoyed it! Great animations!

  7. not_justagirl
    not_justagirl says:

    I’m wishing I had my girl at home right now to see this… get an 11 year olds point of view. I agree that there will be alot of questions about the ‘killing’ of the silkworms… not sure, but softening the blow with something about it’s kinda like they go to sleep in a warm room? Just a suggestion… as a mom I’ve had the tough questions asked… *smiles tiredly*

    feeding frenzy animation is great… you mentioned time later with the kids too… the picture of the little kid holding the worm is cool… is this the right time of year for that?

    the handout idea is good too… taking home cocoons and silk is neat but I’d just have some cocoons ready to pick up as opposed to in a package in case some kids are sensitive to the dead worm in their cocoon… options are good! Kids like that… *grins* kinda like “you can have meatloaf on your Hercules plate or you can have meatloaf on a regular plate for dinner”…

    good luck and have fun!!!

  8. admin
    admin says:

    I’ve been doing the demos in person for several years now – I’ve found that as long as I’m very honest and matter-of-fact about it, about 98% of the kids have a reaction where they just shrug, “get it” and move on.

    I’ve got handouts – one a densely-printed two-sided sheet with lots more facts and info than what’s in the presentation, the other simple with big pictures…

    I’ve got caterpillars now, but they’ll be small (they’ll probably be close to an inch long by the time of the demo). At the point where I would have been feeding baby worms, I had to be out of town. So, not nearly as impressive, but they can at least see them. I should have some live moths, too.

  9. admin
    admin says:

    yeah – I get that question every time, once they get to touch a cocoon – the cocoons rattle when shaken, and they instantly have to know what’s going on. I find that if I cut it off at the pass by explaining it early on in an honest, no-nonsense way, they deal with it remarkably well.

  10. admin
    admin says:

    I’ve got separate handouts – they’re not related to the presentation (although some of the images are the same) but they cover similar ground.

  11. admin
    admin says:

    I get into reeled silk versus spun silk if I’m doing a talk for a handweavers guild or an embroidery group – but so many of the people just don’t get it. I do have fabrics made of spun and noil silk, and I talk about the use of the wastes – but I have to be careful or I see their eyes glaze over.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Add a coloring page for the 1st and 2nd grade gang and a word search for the bigger kids in your handouts. Any other hands on stuff that they can do is also good.
    Loved the animation. Want one of the medals.

  13. naturespirit
    naturespirit says:

    It looks really good, my only comment is that it may be a little mature for the yournger kids. You may need to do some explaining about some of the words, like enzymes.

  14. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    OT : I’m listening to a book written by a man who spent 2.5 years teaching in China in the 80s.

    He’s just said

    “Tai Chi is often compared in Chinese literature to floating clouds or the reeling of silk”

    So there’s your quote for today.

  15. admin
    admin says:

    There’s actually a whole school of Tai Chi called “Silk Reeling” – and there is (or used to be) a school of Tai Chi that referred to the wormspit page, as an example of how silk is actually reeled! It was kind of cool – they refer to the drawing out of the chi (a sort of personal power/energy) as being like drawing the strands of silk from the cocoons.

  16. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    And I can actually visualise that after seeing your Powerpoint presentation showing the pot with the cocoons, and drawing out the silk threads with spoons.

  17. tilia_tomentosa
    tilia_tomentosa says:


    But I think naturespirit is right about the word “enzyme”.

    Thinking of “silk facts”: I’ve never heard of anyone being allergic to silk. Is it really hypoallergenic? I’m allergic to polyester, that’s why I always think of fibers in this way.

    And by the way, my moths live longer, especially the females. My males live about a week on the average, and my females – about 2 weeks, and I had a female that lived 19 days! I also noticed that most of my female moths adapted to the last temperature rise, and most of the males just died.

  18. tilia_tomentosa
    tilia_tomentosa says:

    Do you have a good photo of a molting silkworm, IN THE PROCESS of walking out of its old skin? I am always fascinated to see that, so I suppose the children would be fascinated too. Well, It’s only a guess – alternatively, they might be disgusted, you are the one who knows how children usually react. And you are the one who knows if it would fit into your time limit.

  19. tilia_tomentosa
    tilia_tomentosa says:

    Well, about an inch long means at least CLEARLY VISIBLE caterpillars – not as if they were hatchlings, in which case you would need a magnifying glass! *laughs*

  20. admin
    admin says:

    True – just not big enough for them to easily pick up and hold. We’ll see how it goes – they can be held fairly small, but they’re so easy to squash.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I know – one doesn’t even need to go as far as squashing them to kill them. What do you expect them to be by then, fourth instars? If yes, that would be comparatively safe – even fifth instars aren’t very difficult to kill by incompetent handling after all.

    WHEN is that presentation? You haven’t mentioned any particular time.

  22. admin
    admin says:

    It’s next Monday. I’m expecting that they’ll be getting close to fourth, if they’re not fourth already. I’m planning to pass them around in a little tray, so that people can see them but not handle them.

  23. redheadforever
    redheadforever says:


    Everybody benefits, nobody dies, and it’s soooo pretty.

    Also the only kind you can use if you’re a dedicated animal lover/vegan/just (like me) creeped out at making harmless creatures die for your adornment — although they ARE an important source of high=quality protein and were used as such in wartime Japan, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Please let the kids know that there IS beautiful silk out there for them if kindness or training prevent them from using regular silk.

    And, it sews sooo prettily.

    Good luck! My computer can’t figure out what to use to open it, or I’d comment on your file


  24. admin
    admin says:

    :sigh: I hear this so often. It’s just not true.

    They are indeed raised outdoors, but on plantations of rows of oak trees – they’re not wild in the woods any more than sheep or goats. They are watched over, tended, and moved from tree to tree as they eat the leaves up.

    Tussah is killed with heat or steam, and reeled in water just like Bombyx. See this page: http://www.hsgwc.co.jp/english/silk_pages/tfy_process.html
    or this one: http://www.youfengsilk.com/egylc.asp

    The yarns and handspinning fiber are primarily waste, both from breeder cocoons and from off-cuts in the working process. Just this past week, I emailed with a friend of mine, silkmoth entomologist (Dr. Richard Peigler, University of the Incarnate Word) and confirmed this – he just got back from the Tussah-raising regions of China, (mostly Guangdong and Guangzhou) and they only allow enough moths to hatch to perpetuate the crop, just like Bombyx.

    There’s more, but I can’t tell you all the details until he publishes his upcoming book about it. But I can confirm that the moths-emerge part of Tussah culture is just misinformation. It’s primarily promulgated by one source on the Web – and I’ve emailed her and asked her to change her info, and I’ve emailed her source in India, and HE has asked her to change her info, but she has left much of it in place. There is indeed some sericulture in which the cocoons are not stifled (killed with heat) – but in many of THOSE cases, the pupae are eaten for food. So it didn’t die in the cocoon, but it goes to the dinner table.

    I know that vegans want to wear and work with silk – who wouldn’t? It’s fantastic stuff. But I don’t think that veganism and silk are compatible, unless you’re raising the silkworms yourself, under certain highly controlled conditions, or actually plucking wild cocoons from the trees (which I’ve done… you can usually find four or five in a good hour’s work).

  25. redheadforever
    redheadforever says:

    Holy Crappity Horror!

    They tell you this in TEXTBOOKS! The teachers are wrong and I’ve been sewing with murdered creatures’ unglued houses?


    Of course, they told us for how long that no brain cell grows or regenerates after birth. *gameshow HONK noise*

    Wrong. And now they freely admit it.

    Dammit, no more silk loveliness for me.

    Good thing *shudders* polyester is getting to be such a good faux.

    Awwww, you’ve kinda broken my sewing heart…


    thanks for the information and good luck with the presentation!

  26. admin
    admin says:

    I think a lot of it comes from a couple of specific, unfortunately misinformed sources. It goes out from there… somebody does research, and then that research gets copied to some other place.

    I’ve even found the “Peace Silk” crap on a website that’s selling Water Reeled Tussah – http://www.tussah.cn/ – Basically, the phrase “Tussah is wildcrafted, and thus it is naturally both organic silk and “Peace Silk” – suitable for vegetarians. Tussah or wild silk worms live naturally in tropical or semi-tropical forests. Their silk is gathered after the moth emerges.” along with some other related text, has just been copied over and over.

    Sorry about that…

  27. scifigal
    scifigal says:

    I added you as a friend

    I remember seeing your journal years ago, when you posted your awesome red fulled/felted handbag–I think you put a deck of tarot cards in it for sizing.

    Anyway, your journal is very interesting, so I added you. Please feel free to add me back if you like. I’m an American living in Ukraine and I have a government job, so my journal is friends only.

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Michael, this is fascinating!

    As a general rule, you probably should consider making separate pps’s for the various age groups. Start with the full presentation, then simplify for the younger groups. Little one won’t sit still for long, so 5 slides at a max with show-and-tell mixed in. Leave out life and death details, but eating details are good. Love the animated eating thing, which I would count as 1 slide.

    The older kids, like the 7th graders, are going to LOVE the death thing! Boiled alive with get LOTS of response from the boys in particular with ewwww from the girls!

    It’s gonna be great!

  29. admin
    admin says:

    It went over pretty well – I had to do the presentation (30 minutes) for all the groups as one, plus about 40 parents… then broke into small groups to do hands-on.

  30. msandromeda
    msandromeda says:

    I was just pointed at your lj by due to my obsession with bees. I loved your October post about feeding them! I’m glad she did – I was just cataloging a slim book on silk production, which had great woodcut illustrations but minimal text. I wanted more substance, and I think your intro for kids will be just my speed. 🙂

    Hope you don’t mind that I’ve added you.

  31. admin
    admin says:


    I’ve been thinking about getting hives, but just haven’t made the plunge yet…. feeding them was a definite head trip.

    What’s the name of the silk book? I’m always looking for more good illos…


  32. msandromeda
    msandromeda says:


    None of us can find it. It was a small hardcover Foreign Languages Press book – we got it in with a large buy and I bet it’s just buried in a pile somewhere. I’ll let you know when it resurfaces.

    We do have a very fancy silk book in right now – “Silk Worker’s Notebook” by Cheryl Kolander. Found it while rummaging for the other one.

  33. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Hmph

    I have several copies of the soft-cover version of Cheryl’s book… sadly, she’s not that much interested in silk *reeling,* which is the part that I really want.. but it’s got a lot of good info. Things like that I tend to pick up multiple copies so that I can give them to people from time to time.

    How much are you asking for the fancy one? (if I’m reading this right, and it’s a store and not a library…)

  34. msandromeda
    msandromeda says:

    Re: Hmph

    Yes, it’s a bookstore. 🙂 We have $100 on the Silk Worker’s book – it’s the hardback, in good condition save for some spots to the covers, all fabric samples present. It was obviously used for reference, not a collector’s copy.

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