In our weekly summer segment Friday Fun with Frederick & Fleming, we do different little science experiments that would be fun to do with your kids. The goal with all of these is to use things you could find around the house or pick up at almost any store for a very little amount of money.
In today’s segment we did a little example of potential energy and kinetic energy using popsicle sticks.
- Wide popsicle sticks.
- Place one popsicle stick on top of a 2nd one in the shape of an X.
- Take a third popsicle stick and put it under the first stick so that some pressure/tension is created.
- Repeat the process and keep moving down the line until you have created a long chain of popsicle sticks in X shapes.
In nature everything wants to be in equilibrium. Objects are essentially always wanting to be at a resting state. But many times objects have a lot of potential energy in them that when released results in some reaction. In this case a popsicle stick lying by itself is it’s equilibrium state and it likes being in that state. If you bend the popsicle stick in your hand, it will snap back to the original position. So by placing the popsicle sticks in a way that the energy is built up but can’t be released increases the potential energy. Then once released the kinetic energy is going until all the popsicle sticks come to rest.