04 March 2009

How strong is paper?

Paper is pretty easy to tear, isn’t it?  Scribble something down; a mistake perhaps.  And it’s so easy just to rip it up and throw it away.

Well you’d think so.  So be prepared to be surprised.  We certainly were.

Take three strips of paper, making sure they are the same size.

A strip each of (pink) A4 writing paper…..


of paper towel and of newspaper.


You will also need a plastic bag…..


some sticky tape, a big clip and more plastic counting teddies than you could possibly imagine.


Have you worked out what we are going to do yet?  Yes; we are going to stick one end of a strip of paper to the table…..


attach a plastic bag to the other end (using the big clip)…..


and then gradually add teddies, one by one, until the paper tears.  Or at least that’s what we thought we’d be doing.

But hang on a minute.  Let’s think about what we expect will happen.  Which paper do you think will be the strongest, or hold the most plastic counting teddies before it tears?

With one brave exception, everyone thinks that the (pink) A4 paper will be the strongest.

So, one by one, let’s start adding…..




Well, the first surprise came when one of the plastic bags tore.  Which meant that the strip of paper was stronger than plastic!

The next surprise was when the big clip slipped off, spilling all the teddies onto the floor.  Which meant that even a big clip can’t hold on to so many teddies

The third surprise was that we ran out of teddies!  And we have got a LOT of teddies!

And then (as the children in the classroom all the way downstairs and along the corridor will attest) YES!!!  The first strip of paper tore.  Phew.

IMG_3375 IMG_3376

Next the mammoth task of counting all those poor teddies…..


before recording the results in a table.

What type of paper do you think was the strongest?  Were our guesses correct?  How many teddies do you think it took before our strongest strip of paper tore?

Why not try a similar investigation?  You could even try using some different types of paper.  And here is something to think about; I wonder; does it make a difference whether you cut the strips of paper crosswise or downwards?

With apologies to all of those hard-working children in the other classes who must have wondered what on earth was going on in Class 2i on Tuesday afternoon!

1 comment:

Family Aritake-Wild said...

Wow, what a series of scientific experiments! Gang of future scientists?


Leon's mum