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Suspended rice science experiment : Fizzics Education

SCIENCE SHOWS, EVENTS & WORKSHOPS

Suspended rice

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need

  • A Coke bottle or any other plastic screw-top bottle (the smaller the better)
  • Uncooked Rice
  • A pencil or chopstick or any other straight rod

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Suspended rice experiment - materials needed
1 Suspended rice experiment - A bottle of rice

Fill the bottle with uncooked rice.

2 Suspended rice experiment - pushing a pen into a bottle of rice

Plunge the pencil straight down into the bottle. Try to lift the bottle just by the pencil. Doesn’t work too well…

3 Suspended rice experiment - pushing a pen into a bottle of rice

Now try plunging the pencil in and out at least 30 – 40 times at different heights for compaction.

4 A bottle of rice being held up by a pencil that has been pushed into it.

Can you now lift the bottle off the table just using the pencil? Why does this work?

This experiment is worth running over a large bowl to catch any mess!

Troubleshooting

Doesn’t work? Try putting the pencil into the rice at different heights each time.

5 A presenter sprinkling salt into a yellow flame

Why Does This Happen

The more contact between two surfaces, the great the friction. When you push the pencil in and out of the rice you are slowly compacting the rice and pushing air out of the container. This means that more and more rice gets in contact with your pencil which slowly but surely increases the friction between the rice and the pencil. Eventually, there is so much friction you can lift the rice-filled jar, or bottle, into the air as the frictional forces are greater than the force of gravity.

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • Try different types of rice.
  • Try different widths of pencils & sticks… which is the optimal size?
  • Is it possible to perform the same demonstration using sand or gravel in the bottle?

Learn more!

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