Science Week: Make Your Own High Vis Tags


Published: March 16, 2017

British science week.

It’s British Science Week and for those of us involved in road safety education this is the ideal opportunity to show how being safe and seen and reflectivity can be integrated into science lessons.

One of our local infant schools is particularly hot on science and I was invited along to their ‘Science at Work’ day as part of their Science Week activities, to help 90 pupils make and test their own high vis tags. Here’s how we got on.

Why Make High Vis Tags?

Teaching children why and how to be safe and seen when out and about is much more effective if they go away not just with the knowledge but also with a practical item to help them. These tags are reflective for night on one side and fluorescent for day on the other.

As they will have made the tags themselves they are likely to show them proudly to parents and explain what they are for. Something that can be attached to their school book bags will be seen and the message reinforced every day… and is also a way of personalising and identifying different children’s bags.

Here we show you how to introduce and run a low-cost ‘make a high vis tag’ activity for a class and how they can test the reflective side.

Workshop Programme

  • Introduction using high vis hedgehog as prop.
  • Discussion about people wearing high vis – who, when and why. How the bright colour/fluorescent bits show up in daytime and the reflective bits show up at night when the cars shine their headlights. Wearing or carrying something fluorescent and reflective can help you to be seen day and night. Show them ready-made high vis tag example.
  • Quick game with the high vis tag as prop: ‘When does this side help you to be seen?’ – flip tag over and back and they call out ‘day’ or ‘night’.
  • Explain task: They will make a high vis tag which is reflective on one side and fluorescent on the other, adding their own designs. Then they will stuff it and get it stapled shut and a cord added. They will need to put their name on a sticker on their tag. Finally they will test it in a ‘dark box’ with a torch to see how bright the reflective side is at night.

How to Make a High Vis Tag

Materials required: old high vis waistcoat made with 5cm wide reflective bands (one adult waistcoat will make approx 20 tags, if using more than one waistcoat have a mix of fluoro colours), 30cm thin cord or ribbon,  scrap piece of bubble wrap (approx 5cm x 3cm).

Equipment required: ruler, scissors, stapler (all for teacher), fabric pens, highlighter pens or felt pens in selection of colours (for pupils), blank fluoro stickers for naming.

Preparation (by adult before session): For each tag, cut a 10cm strip of the reflective band still stitched to the fluorescent fabric. Cut at least 3mm outside each row of stitching.

Pupil activity:

  1. Draw a design on the coloured fabric side – use felt pens, highlighter pens or fabric pens.
  2. Push some ‘stuffing’ inside, eg a piece of scrap bubble wrap, to give it some some thickness.
  3. Hold the stuffing in by stapling the bottom edge (teachers help).
  4. Put the middle part of the cord just inside the top of the reflector and staple through both sides of the top of the reflector and the cord (teachers help).
  5. Put your name on a circle sticker and fold it over to stick to the cord.
  6. Your high vis tag is now ready to test in the dark box and then tie on to your school bag.

How to Test Your High Vis Tag

Materials required: Cardboard shoe box with lid, black poster paint. Optional – paper and pens to cover and decorate the outside.

Equipment required: Paintbrush, narrow torch, scissors

Teacher preparation: Paint the inside of the shoe box and lid with the black paint and leave to dry. Cut a hole in one end just large enough to put the torch through and to look through at the same time. Decorate outside if required.

Pupil activity:

  1. Put your high vis tag inside the box opposite the hole, with the reflective side facing the hole. Put the lid on.
  2. Look inside the dark box without the torch light. Can you see the reflector?
  3. Now shine the torch in and look again. See how different the reflector looks when you shine the torch on it.

This demonstrates how brightly reflectors can shine but they need a light source to work.

Thanks to Year 1 pupils and staff at South End Infant School, Rushden for their participation and permission to record and publish images of pupils taking part. Images copyright Brightkidz (but please ask us if you would like to use them for your road safety education purposes).