From the Mad Science Lab at Weston’s Holiday Break Camp at Camp Sagemont:
Popsicle Stick Chain Reaction
For our Camp Sagemont campers interested in a good science experiment. Try this one…Weave popsicle sticks together to build potential energy before releasing them in a flurry of kinetic energy.
Popsicle sticks are great for holding frozen treats and reading the occasional joke off of, but did you know they’re excellent for demonstrating potential and kinetic energy? It’s true! If you weave popsicle sticks together just right, you can create a chain reaction that will create a dazzling display of flying popsicle sticks!
- Lots and lots (did we mention lots?) of popsicle sticks
- Tons of patience
- A friend (optional, but can make the process much easier)
- Start off with two popsicle sticks. Lay them in an "X" on a flat surface.
- Weave the end of a third popsicle stick underneath the end of the popsicle stick on the bottom of the "X." The rest of the third stick should go over top of the popsicle stick on the top of the "X." Make sure to keep pressure on the third stick.
- Repeat step 2 with a fourth popsicle stick. This time, start underneath the second popsicle stick and weave over the third.
- Continue adding popsicle sticks in this fashion until you have a really long chain!
- Once you’ve extended the chain to your heart’s content… let go! The popsicles will release in a chain reaction that will have everyone in the area jumping for joy.
How Does It Work?
The key to the Popsicle Chain Reaction comes from potential and kinetic energy. As you weave the popsicle sticks together, you are continually building potential energy. Each popsicle stick is bent over the stick before it and pinned under the stick before that, creating tension in the wood. When you finally have the chain length that you want, you let go and all of the tension and potential energy is released in a chain reaction of kinetic energy!
Let us know how your experiment worked out!