Paperclips are made of metal, and sink to the bottom of a glass of water. The challenge is for you or anther person is to get the paperclip to float on top of the glass of water. Call someone over.
American citizens protesting the Trump presidency have taken to wearing safety pins to show their solidarity. Similarly, the paperclip, was used as a symbol of resistance against the Nazis in World War 2. With this in mind, grab a paperclip (or a safety pin) and try out this challenge.
By using anything on hand, can you get this to float, unaided, on top of this water?
Give them some time and paperclips to try it out.
The trick comes when inserting the object into the water. You need to be as gentle as possible.
However, your fingers aren’t as gentle as a paper napkin. Tear off a strip of napkin and place it on the surface of the water. Then place the paperclip on top of the floating napkin.
Use another paperclip to sink the napkin, or let it sink on its own after a few moments.
Voila, metal floats on water.
- Whatever floats your boat... or even floats your paperclip / safety pin.
- When you can’t figure it out, this challenge really gives you a sinking feeling.
- Paperclips aren’t just for keeping your paperwork together, they’re also good for connecting people. (Safety pins aren’t just for keeping your fabric together, they’re also good for connecting people.)
How many paperclips can you get floating at one time? And if you’re anti-Trump, share the safety pin challenge with others.
Can you float a coin?
What do we learn from this?
How do you explain this floating paperclip?
- When you want to get people curious.
- When you want to demonstrate some physics in action.
- When you want to float their goat (ok ok … just smile).
- The breakfast table
- The office canteen
- Cocktail parties
- Socializing at the pub
- A glass of water and some paperclips or safety pins.
- Have your glass of water ready, get some paperclips and a paper napkin, and you are all set.
- This requires a gentle touch – try this on your own a few times to get the hang of it.
- Safe as can be.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
a glass of water, some paperclips and a paper napkin
you should have all these things around the house and the office
don’t drink the water and you will be good for a while
time to impact time to impact
pretty much there and then
size of audience size of audience
one-on-one or a small group
possible health risk possible health risk
don’t sip the water and accidentally swallow a paperclip
reusable how many times you can use it
training needed training needed
be gentle, and give this a few practice rounds