Tag Archives: experiment

Shadow play

Shadow puppetry is an ancient form of storytelling through the use of puppets and light. It began about 2000 years ago in China when an emperor’s wife died, and his court created a shadow version of her so that the emperor could see her again.

Shadow theatres are still used today. Check out these people building a car out of just a few props!

You too can do it at home with just a torch and some paper shapes. Ask an adult to point a torch at a wall a couple of metres away. Then hold paper shapes between the torch and the wall to cast shadows on the wall. Here’s a good guide for making shadow puppets.

From animals to trees and smiley, sad and scary faces, you can make all sorts. Even your hands can create different animals – though some are more complicated than others! Can you guess what each animal is?Image

Shadows are made when an opaque (non see-through) object blocks light. The size and shape of the shadow depends on the distance between the light source and the object casting the shadow as well as the distance between the object and the surface on which the shadow is cast. The closer you move an object to the light source the bigger it gets. Try it – if you hold your hand ten centimetres from the torch it blocks out much more light than if you hold it a metre from the torch.

 Good luck casting shadows – let us know if you get any good ones!

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How to make a paperclip float

One of the forthcoming activities we are creating is about testing things that float, so here’s an experiment of how to make something float that normally sinks.

All you need float is a bowl of water, a paperclip and some tissue paper.

If you try making a paperclip float in water simply by dropping it in, the chances are it will sink to the bottom, as in this photo.


However, follow these steps and you may find it floats on the water for some time.

1)      Fill a bowl with water

2)      Place a single sheet of tissue paper flat on the surface

3)      Very carefully, lay the paperclip on the tissue

4)      Using a pencil or finger prod the tissue paper into the water

5)      Hopefully, the paperclip should rest on the surface

If the paperclip floats, this is because it is lying on the “skin” of the water. Water particles have a positive and negative static charge. Because opposites attract, they stick together and create the skin effect, known as surface tension. Simply dropping the paperclip into the water can disrupt this balance, but the gentle actions of lowering the tissue and then the clip, then removing the tissue, allow the surface tension to be maintained.

ImageIn this image, you can see the gentle imprint the clip makes in the water. You might see a similar effect with water insects, especially now it’s spring time. In the below picture, see how the pond skaters’ legs gently depress the surface. The skater uses the water’s skin to its advantage, enabling it to travel over the surface of the pond without sinking.


Let us know if you have any luck with it or capture any good pond skater photos!

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