Secrets of Making Money

Student Handout

Bucking Trends

The design of each U.S. bill is hard to counterfeit, and the paper and ink that are used to print the money are specially chosen and prepared. A bill's design also represents its nation's identity. Design a bill of your own and then test it against a U.S. bill and other materials to see any differences.

Part I
Do this part individually on a separate sheet of paper.

Choose a country to represent and draw your own version of a new, counterfeit-proof bill for that country. Make your bill the same size as an actual U.S. dollar bill. Use whatever security features you think are important to prevent counterfeiting, and add whatever portraits or symbols you think would best represent your chosen nation.

Part II
Do this part in your group.

Now that you have drawn your bill, cut it out and test it against same-sized cutouts of wood pulp paper and lightweight cotton cloth, as well as an actual U.S. dollar bill. Once you have done the tests listed in the table, think up some tests of your own to determine how different materials withstand the wear and tear a bill goes through during its lifetime.


  1. What other "invisible" security measures could be added to your bill?

  2. How are the materials you tested similar? How are they different?

  3. Which sample is most like an actual U.S. bill? How?

  4. Why does the material used for the U.S. bill seem like a good choice? Why might the Treasury Department not have chosen the other materials?

Make a chart like this one for your answers:



reasons for test

your bill

cutout of wood pulp paper

cutout of lightweight cotton cloth

actual U.S. Bill

look at each under a microscope or hand lens

to check for features within the material

place a neodymium magnet near each

to check for magnetic ink

place each under an ultraviolet light*

to detect which materials will fluoresce

your test:

your test:

* Wear safety glasses for this test.