Suspended rice science experiment : Fizzics Education


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Suspended rice

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


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!


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

5 A man pointing at a bicycle wheel spinning horizontally on a desk (balancing by itself)

Get the Unit of Work on Forces here!

  • Push, pull
  • Friction & spin!

From inertia to centripetal force, this unit covers many concepts about Newton’s Laws!

Includes cross-curricular teaching ideas, student quizzes, a sample marking rubric, scope & sequences & more

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6 A presenter sprinkling salt into a yellow flame
7 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

Online courses for teachers & parents

– Help students learn how science really works

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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.

Road safety application

Friction all about contact, something that you definitely want when it comes to your tyres! Friction allows you to transfer forces from your vehicle to the road surface, allowing you to change direction, accelerate and brake. Regularly check the condition of your tyres, ensuring that they have enough tread to disperse water (to keep you in contact with the road) as well as that they are inflated to the correct pressure.

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?

A man with a glove above a liquid nitrogen vapour cloud

Learn more!


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