Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Toothpick Star Trick - Fun With Capillary Action

Have you seen the toothpick star trick?

It's possible you might have, it seems to be all over the Internet. It was a new one to us, though. The kids got such a kick out of, I thought I'd pass it along to you, just in case you haven't seen it yet, either.

All you need is 5 wooden toothpicks (unwaxed), a plate, or counter top, a glass of water, and a drinking straw.

Bend the toothpicks in half, without breaking completely apart.

Place them on the plate, with the partially broken parts touching to form a circle.

Use the straw, as an eye dropper, to drop one, or two drops of water into the center of the circle.

As the wood absorbs the water (which happens quickly), and passes it from the compressed, broken ends, toward the pointy ends, by capillary action, the toothpicks try to straighten out...

...forming into a star shape.

Steve Spangler has a video demonstration of this trick on his site, and about the best scientific explanation of what's happening, that we could find.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


phasejumper said...

That is so neat! I've never seen that before!

phasejumper said...

I gave you an award on my blog today!

Phyllis said...

I have never seen this before. Very cool. And congrats on your award.

Debbie said...

This is neat! Colored water would really make the affect look neat. We might just have to try this.

Kylie said...

Very cool and I have never seen this one before. :)

lori c. said...

this is very cool. and new to me. will be using it when we do stars later in the year.

Unknown said...

Well, I've never seen that before either! I think this will be added into my "Magic Science" class I am teaching at our homeschooling co-op starting in January. I am certain the kiddos will flip over this!

Christy Killoran said...

I have never seen this either! Very cool. We will certainly try it soon.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I've never heard about it - how neat! Perfect Christmas miracle :)

Ticia said...

I'd seen it once before, but it's still really cool.

Oh, I just thought of a cool way to make this into a spiritual application.

Anonymous said...

I made a project advent calendar for my kids this december, with new projects every day and we did this one today, so I wanted to say thank you! It was a fantastic project and I love your site!

It reminded me of a similar project making construction paper flowers (or stars, tractors, houses, they all work). Simply cut out the shape, fold it up, and place it in the water, where it will bloom, or unfold. Its more fun with the surprise element, presenting the shape all folded up first.

I'll be back to read more! Thanks for sharing.

Have a joyfull holiday season, and a very merry christmas!