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Water Striders & Surface Tension *

Difficulty
Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Water striders (also called water bugs, pond skippers, etc.) are insects that can hop around on the surface of water (Figure 1). Unlike boats or other floating objects that are partially submerged and held up by the resulting buoyant force, water striders are held up by surface tension.
water striders on water
Figure 1. Water striders (image credit Isaka Yoji).

You can build your own water striders using thin wire (Figure 2). Do some background research about surface tension, and experiment with how different variables affect the performance of your water strider. What happens if you change the diameter of the wire, the length of the legs, or the number of legs? For advanced students, can you do calculations that determine how much weight the water strider should be able to support based on the size of the legs? How do these calculations compare to your experimental results?

water strider made from wire
Figure 2. Water strider built from copper wire.

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Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Finio, Ben. "Water Striders & Surface Tension." Science Buddies, 16 June 2018, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Phys_p107/physics/water-strider-surface-tension. Accessed 21 Sep. 2018.

APA Style

Finio, B. (2018, June 16). Water Striders & Surface Tension. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Phys_p107/physics/water-strider-surface-tension


Last edit date: 2018-06-16

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