Inertia Washer Flick

See if you can flick a washer from a stack of washers without disrupting the stack!

Time: 3 minutes

Materials:

  • 6 to 10 equal sized washers
  • a piece of thick construction paper (must be thinner than the height of the washer
  • a flat smooth surface

Procedure:

  • stack the washers into one vertical stack on a flat surface
  • using the construction paper, try to flick away the bottom-most washer
  • keep flicking until you reach the last washer

Observation:

  • What happened?
  • If it worked, you should be able to flick away the bottom washer without disrupting the remaining stack of washers.

Explanation:

Everything has inertia (even photons?), which is a property of things at rest wanting to stay at rest and things in motion wanting to stay in motion (Newton’s 1st Law). When you flick away the bottom washer, the remaining stack of washers stay in place for a brief moment thanks to inertia.

 

Alternate Experiments:

  • try using a stack of coins
  • try using a stack of plastic poker chips
  • try flicking with different materials: thin plastic ruler
  • see how quickly you can reduce the stack

Can you think of other ways to demonstration this experiment?

Video of this Inertia Science Experiment

Some Pictures

Inertia Flick Trick

inertia with washers

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Coco Science

Coco is interested in STEAM with a particular interest in the A. She has a hamster named Marshmallow and likes to read, craft, cook and dance.