6 Rubber Band Experiments for Science Class!
Making learning fun is sometimes half the battle! With the right activities, educators can ensure learning about science and engineering involves hands-on fun for students of all ages. Build in some stretchy science fun with STEM experiments that use rubber bands!
Stretchy STEM Science!
Rubber bands are fun to stretch. What happens when you let them go? They might fly! Can you use the stretchiness of a rubber band to send other things flying or create sound waves? Can you learn about energy from rubber bands? Yes!
Students can learn a lot about potential and kinetic energy—and the law of conservation of energy—from simple rubber bands. In this week's Educator's Corner, we've highlighted an assortment of exciting maker-inspired builds and experiments that use rubber bands. From launchers and a rubber band-powered car to noisemaking fun with a rubber band guitar or craft stick harmonica, these are STEM-based activities your students will love.
Let's hear it for stretchy rubber band science!
Rubber Band STEM: Experiment | Watch Videos | Ask Questions | Dig Deeper | Choice Board | Explore Careers | Read Books
EXPERIMENT: STEM Experiments with Rubber Bands
The science: The launcher stores elastic potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy that propels the cotton ball when the rubber band is released.
The science: Both the guitar and the harmonica make sound because when the rubber bands vibrate, their potential energy is converted to sound waves (sound energy).
The science: When the propeller is wound, it stores elastic potential energy that is converted to kinetic energy when released.
The science: The stretched rubber band stores potential energy that will be converted to kinetic energy to propel the plane forward when the rubber band is released. Designing a device that can stand up to repeated use will take trial and error, troubleshooting, and problem solving!
The science: When the launching stick is pushed down, it has potential energy, just as a rubber band does when it is stretched. When the stick is released, the energy is converted to kinetic energy which is transferred to the object being launched.
The science: When the axle is wound, potential energy is stored. When the axle is released, the energy is converted to kinetic energy that propels the car forward.
Use these questions with students to prompt conversation and reflection about the science behind these Rubber Band STEM activities:
- Does an unstretched rubber band have energy?
- What type of energy are you creating when you stretch a rubber band?
- What happens when you release a stretched rubber band in terms of its energy?
- What are other examples of potential energy?
- What is the law of conservation of energy?
DIG DEEPER: More Lessons and Activities
For additional lessons and activities related to potential energy, elastic energy, and types of energy, see these curated Teaching Science Units collections:
- 26 Experiments To Teach About Types of Energy
- 13 Activities and Lessons to Teach Potential and Kinetic Energy
CHOICE BOARD: Differentiated Learning
Choice boards offer a flexible learning tool educators can use to supplement classroom instruction. You might try a choice board as part of weekly homework, for extra credit, or for asynchronous and remote learning.
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EXPLORE: STEM Careers
After trying Rubber Band STEM experiments, students may be inspired to learn more about these science and engineering careers:
Pair picture and story books like these with Rubber Band STEM explorations.
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