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Jumping bug

By David, 22 July 2021 Activity

Twisted blue and white wire.

Sproing!

This simple toy is made from a few paperclips and can jump high into the air. Time to get bending!

hazard iconSafety: This toy jumps high in the air – wear safety goggles when playing with it, and don’t shoot it near other people or pets.

You will need

  • 2 plastic coated paperclips of different colours
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Safety goggles

What to do

  1. bending a blue paper clip.Carefully straighten out the 2 paperclips.
  2. Bending a wire with pliers.Use the needle nose pliers to round the ends of each wire. Young readers might need an adult to help with this step.
  3. Twisting the two wires together.Put the 2 wires in a cross shape, and then twist them around each other. You’ll need about 5 twists to hold them together well.
  4. Two wire crosses, one with a cross has both blue wires on one side the one with a tick has blue and white wires on both sides.Look at the colours of the 4 ends of the wires. Make sure the left front and right back wires the same colour. If both left wires, or both front wires, are the same colour, give it another half twist.
  5. Twisted wires bent so that it is held up by four legs.Bend the wires slightly so that all 4 ends touch the ground and the middle is up in the air about 1 centimetre.
  6. Man wearing safety goggles.Put on your safety goggles.
  7. Pressing on the twisted wire bug.Push down on the middle of the toy, and then slide your finger off it. It should jump into the air!

 

What’s happening?

Sproing! The way this toy works is quite simple. As you push down on the bug, its legs bend. When you release it, the legs unbend, launching the bug into the air. The energy you used to squish the bug is released as movement (or kinetic) energy.

But to make the bug, you bent the wire without it springing back. So what’s the difference?

A bug that bends

When you bend, twist, stretch or squeeze a material, there are three things that can happen. It can spring back, change shape or break. Most materials will do all three, depending on how much they are bent. A small bend will spring back, a larger bend will change the material’s shape permanently, and even more bending will break it.

While not as elastic as a rubber band, paperclips are somewhat elastic. That means you can bend paper clips a fair amount before they permanently change. This helps them do their job of holding paper together. It also allows your bug to jump.

Paperclips are also ductile, which means you can bend them a lot before they break. If they weren’t ductile, you wouldn’t be able to shape this fun bug!

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