A craft stick or popsicle stick chain reaction is a brilliant example of how potential energy and kinetic energy work. As you weave the lolly sticks together you can actually feel the potential energy building.
How does a popsicle stick chain reaction work?
The sticks are bent and pinned over each other which creates tension. When you release the end stick the tension and potential energy are released making the sticks fly through the air.
I first saw a lolly stick chain reaction at a conference held by the Primary Science Teaching Trust and couldn’t wait to show my children, we’ve since made hundreds of different sizes and even added small pom pom balls to add to the excitement.
What you need for a popsicle stick chain reaction
Lots of craft sticks or popsicle sticks, we used slightly thicker sticks than normal.
How to make a popsicle stick chain reaction
Set up your chain reaction using the photos below as a guide. It can be a bit tricky, but totally worth the effort.
More Chain Reaction Ideas
How long can you make your chain reaction?
What do you think will happen if you add pom poms?
Could you add something a little heavier than pom poms? Would they jump as high? – remember to stand back
You might also like our egg chain reaction!
There are more chain reaction ideas in this great post from Frugal Fun for Boys.
I also have a giant chain reaction we set up in the garden.
More Popsicle Stick Activities
Design and build a popsicle stick catapult. This is another great activity to demonstrate kinetic and potential energy.
We also really love the look of these Exploding Boomerangs from I Can Teach My Child.
These popsicle stick bridges from Mommy Evolution look great too.