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Paper Clip Boat

What you’ll learn: This activity is a great way to teach your kid about surface tension and water molecules.

What you need:

  • Two paper clipsFloatingpaperclip3
  • Tissue paper
  • A bowl
  • Water
  • A pencil (with eraser on the end)

What to do:

  • Fill the bowl with water
  • Try to make a paper clip float in the water (it doesn’t work!)
  • Cut out (or tear out) a 2 – 3 inch square of tissue paper
  • Drop the tissue flat onto the surface of the water (make sure you’re gentle!)
  • Place the second paper clip flat onto the tissue. Try not to touch the water or the tissue paper and be very gentle.
  • Using the eraser end of the pencil, poke the tissue (not the paper clip) until the tissue paper sinks in the water
  • Watch your paper clip boat float!

After you’ve sailed your paper clip boat:

  • Discuss surface tension (Surface tension is a property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force. It is like a “skin” on the top of water. This property is caused by cohesion of similar molecules)
  • Explain that the paperclip is not really floating, but is actually being held up by surface tension
  • Discuss examples of this phenomenon in the real world (insects use it to float on water, as does the Basilisk lizard)

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