In the Science Lab

Fun With Physics: Rubber Band Relay

What it teaches: Potential and kinetic energy

What you need: Large rubber bands (all same size and shape), chalk, rulers, tape, tape measure

What to do: Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to tape two rulers together, forming a 90-degree angle, with the zeros of each ruler at the vertex. Go outside to a paved play area and have students draw a line in front of their toes with chalk, which will be a starting line from which rubber bands will be shot and measured. Then have students hold the rulers so that the top ruler is parallel to the ground. Have one partner hook the rubber band to the front edge of the ruler, pull the band back 10 centimeters, then let go. Then have the second partner create a chalk mark where the first rubber band lands. Measure and record the distance from the starting line to the second chalk mark.

Repeat the experiment pulling the rubber band back farther and farther each time.

Book to read: How Far Will a Rubber Band Stretch?, by Mike Thaler

Extra credit: Have students create a graph of the results.