This is a fun 🎄Christmas Inspired Science Experiment you can do with your kiddo. A magic toothpick trick on how to turn a broken toothpicks snowflake into a star? This science experiment will add a little magic to your Holiday Season. See how the toothpicks mysteriously move to form a star!
- 5 wooden toothpicks,
- a dropper or a drinking straw,
Bend each toothpick in the middle carefully not to break it completely.
Place all five semi-broken toothpicks in a circle with broken points meeting at the center.
Using a dropper, carefully put few drops of water in the middle.
Observe how the toothpicks glide into place to form a star!
Please note that the second part of the video of "opening" of the star has been sped up 8x times. So be patient and do not be discouraged if your star doesn’t expand as fast.
Science mystery is revealed: toothpicks are composed of dry wood. When we bend and crack the toothpicks in the middle, the wood fragments inside compress. Once we add water to the center circle of the star, capillary action causes the water to be absorbed into the toothpicks. As the water moves inside the dry toothpick from the starting point of the crack along the length to its pointed tips, the wood fibers that are bent expand and open up. That is the capillary action or water traveling inside the toothpick causes the toothpicks to glide as they straighten forming a star.
As dry wood absorbs water and toothpicks straighten out, they push against one another opening up the inside of the star.
Tips for success (we had several trials and errors till we figured it out:)
- Snap a little - do NOT break! How you break the toothpick matters: bend and apply the least pressure and be very careful not to break apart: the more wooden fibers are still connected, the better chances you will have that the "star" will open. If too many fibers are broken, the experiment will not work.
- Surface matters! We tried this experiment on a plate and it did not work. We are using this tray.
- The right amount of water! Too little would not be enough for the capillary action to take place, and too much water would just cause the toothpicks to float instead of gliding.
But how does wood absorb water? Wood absorbs water by capillary action, adhesion, and cohesion.These are the same factors that allow plants to carry water from the roots upwards through vein-like tubes to the leaves. For more on Capillary Action, see here "💛💙❤️Primary Colors, 💦Water & Paper Capillary Action ⌛️Timelapse ⚗️ Kids Science Experiment (🌈 Rainbow Walking Water). "
Water science is one of the favorite activities with my children! They can never seem to get enough of these experiments! See here "Walnut Shell ⛵Sailboats 💦Water Science Experiment (Science 🔬 💡⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇)" and here a video post "🎶Musical 💦Water 🌈Glasses (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇)" and here "Pour 💦it in! Liquid Illusion" (Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥Series 🎇).