Popsicle Stick Chain Reaction Sick Science!
After the long holiday weekend, it’s back to work and business as usual. During the break, all of us at The Spangler Labs enjoyed our time off and ate a few too many popsicles to stay cool. With all those popsicle sticks laying around, we had to come up with a science activity.
Want to try this at home? Save your popsicle sticks (we also painted ours for more flare and color) and try out this tension-building activity. Keep in mind that this is a challenging activity. It isn’t easy to hold the popsicle sticks down to keep them from going off. It took us several tries and a lot of hands to get it as long as we did without popping. Start off small with a short chain before going the distance.
- 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.
Questions to Ask
- What is the difference between potential and kinetic energy?
- At what point does the energy change from potential to kinetic?
- Where is the potential energy stored?
For the complete Popsicle Stick Chain Reaction and the science behind how it works, visit the experiment page.