Shrinking Chip Bag

Create miniature chip bags in your microwave.

We can’t get our hands on enough stuff to shrink. Faced with the problem of creating tiny chip bags, we turned to Steve. “I don’t know.  Throw them in the microwave,” was all he had to say. So we tossed a bag in the microwave and now we have this experiment. Is it scientific? Oh you bet your bag of salted potato chips that it’s scientific.

SICK Science® is a registered trademark of Steve Spangler, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Experiment Materials

  • Empty bag of SunChips (Big Grab size)
  • Microwave - Get an adult's permission
  • Adult supervision

Experiment Videos

Experiment

Shrinking Chip Bag - Step 1

1

Find an empty bag of SunChips lying around.  If you’ve got a bag full of SunChips, awesome! Eat the SunChips. You can share if you want, but it isn’t necessary to complete the experiment.

2

Flatten out the empty bag as much as possible.

3

Take the empty bag of SunChips and place it inside of a microwave.

STOP! Make sure that you get an adult’s permission!

Shrinking Chip Bag - Step 4

4

Close the microwave door, put it on high power for 5 seconds, and hit start.

Do NOT set the microwave for more than 5 seconds.

5

You’ll see a tiny bit of sparks and hear a bit of noise from the bag, but don’t be alarmed.

Shrinking Chip Bag - Step 6

6

When the 5 seconds of dust settles, you’ll have a miniaturized SunChips bag!

Wait for 30-60 seconds before taking the bag out of the microwave. It’s hot!

How Does It Work

Believe it or not, there is a scientific explanation behind the Shrinking Chip Bag. If you’ve visited our website in the past or follow Steve’s appearances on TV, you know that we love polymers. That’s exactly what comprises the SunChip bag.

Polymers are long chains of molecules. Their natural state is similar to a knotted up string. When a bag of chips is made, these polymers are heated and stretched out to make the flat material used for chip bags. The high heat of this process locks the molecules in this “stretched out” state. When exposed to the heat of being microwaved, the material is able to release from the stretched state and return to its natural, bunched-up state.

But why do the shrinking polymers maintain the shape of the chip bag? This has to do with the other materials that are coating the polymer. Thin layers of aluminum, paint, and other materials line the outsides of the polymer and all of these layers are still bound together in the shape of the bag. So although the polymer chains bunch back into their natural shape, the overall bag shape is maintained.

Related Products