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How to Make a Newspaper Tree

Newspapers are made from trees and trees grow...

Newspapers are made from trees and trees grow… so it only makes sense that you should be able to grow a newspaper tree, right? What? You have doubts? Roll several sheets of newspaper into a tube, tear the tube in a few spots, and an eight foot tall tree suddenly appears! 

Experiment Materials

  • 6 sheets of newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Cardboard tube (paper towel roll works great)

Experiment

  1. Unfold a section of the newspaper and tape the sheets of newspaper together, making one long column of pages.
  2. Use the cardboard tube as a guide to roll the newspaper into the shape of a tube.
  3. Remove the tube from the center of the newspaper roll.
  4. Starting at the top end of the newspaper roll, cut the edge of the newspaper down to the middle of the cylinder. Turn the roll a quarter turn and make another cut from the top down to the middle. Do this two more times so you have four equal strips.
  5. Bend back each of the strips so that you can see the inside of the roll.
  6. Hold onto the base of the tube with one hand while reaching into the center of the newspaper roll with the fingers of the other hand. Pull up on the newspaper inside the tube to start the tree growing. Keep pulling to make the tree grow taller and taller.
  7. When you are finished with your newspaper trees, always put them in the recycling bin so you can help save more real trees!

Of course, if you want to be really tricky, you could cut the newspaper and then hide the cuts by rolling the tube up in another sheet of newspaper. Leave the last few inches unrolled to give the appearance that you are merely rolling up a few sheets of newspaper. At the appropriate time, tear the outer sheet of newspaper along the same lines where the inner roll of newspaper was cut with the scissors. This will give the appearance that you are simply tearing the roll of newspaper into four equal sections. What strength you have to be able to tear through all those layers! Hold the newspaper roll at the bottom and pull the newspaper straight up from the middle. Magically the tree appears.

How Does It Work?

Maybe this is more of a paper trick than a science activity, but it does make you think about where paper comes from and the importance of recycling. Growing your own newspaper tree is a visual reminder that paper is made out of trees and we all know that trees are important, so we’d better recycle!

If you are a teacher, while casually rolling up the newspaper and tearing it into four equal sections, ask the students if they know how paper is made and where it comes from. When they respond by saying, “Paper comes from trees,” quickly pull the center of the newspaper roll straight up to produce the incredibly tall tree. It’s a magical experience that will not be soon forgotten.