Try This at Home: Fun with Sticky Tape

24 Aug

I’ve been working at a long science-y post, but it’s taking longer than I thought, so instead I have a teaser to whet your appetite.



You Will Need:
2 pieces of clear adhesive tape (such as scotch tape) ~ 2 to 3 inches in length
Scissors (if tape does not come with means of cutting)
Plastic or other surface from which tape can be removed without causing damage (I used a library book covered in clear adhesive film)

–Assemble materials.
–Cut two pieces of tape.
–Fold over one end of each piece about a quarter of an inch or so so you have a “tab” to hold onto without getting sticky.

Experiment #1:
–Stick the two pieces of tape together, with the sticky side of one pressed to the non-adhesive side of the other. (You can do this by sticking one piece to your surface and sticking the other one on top of it, or you can stick the two together without an aid).
–Place your hand over the tapes (if on a surface) or blow gently along their length (if not) to ground them.
–Quickly separate the two pieces of tape.
–Bring the two pieces near each other again. What do you observe? What do you think is causing this phenomenon?
BONUS: Try this both ways (with or without the surface as an aid). Is the phenomenon stronger using one method or the other? Which? Why?

Experiment #2 (This one generally only works in fairly dry weather, which does not describe August in WI, so I couldn’t get it to work today. If you don’t notice much when you try this, don’t worry–move on to #3)
–Stick the two pieces of tape to the surface (make sure they are not touching or overlapping).
–Press your hand to both pieces to ground them.
–Quickly pull both pieces of tape off of the surface.
–Bring the two pieces near each other. What do you notice? What do you think is causing this phenomenon?
–If nothing happens, make a prediction about what might happen in drier conditions and why you think that would be the case. Then move on to #3.

Experiment #3
–Stick one of the pieces of tape to the surface, holding the other in one hand.
–Press your free hand to the tape on the surface and gently blow on the tape in your hand to ground them.
–Quickly pull the tape off of the surface.
PREDICT: What do you think will happen when you bring the two pieces together?
–Bring the two pieces near each other. What happens? Are you surprised at this result? Why do you think the observed behavior occurs?


Oh dear Gods I am such a teaching nerd.

This is a modified version of an activity my high school physics teacher had us do to preface a new unit, and I just thought it was the COOLEST THING EVER. Plus, as a science educator, I like demos which are quick and easy and make people say, “Whoa, that was cool!”

Remember–science is everywhere, and science is cool. Whoever thought scotch tape could be so interesting?


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