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Areas of Science Physics
Difficulty
Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

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.
Photo of four water striders standing on water
Figure 1. Water striders (image credit Isaka Yoji).

You can build your own water striders using thin wire (Figure 2 and following video). 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?

Three copper wires twisted together at the center form a bug with six legs
Figure 2. Water strider built from copper wire.

Bibliography

  • The National Wildlife Federation (n.d.). Water Striders. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  • Nave, R. (n.d.). Surface Tension. Hyperphysics. Retrieved May 30, 2018.

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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, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Phys_p107/physics/water-strider-surface-tension?class=AQWPsAugpC-ymS0_S1-O-xs0vYP9YoGmqJySOupJRw7PJ1sIFBwnZZvAXokz5YDfwCtNX7ZuJckONK84KWToGFl4El5LAMBXmFttRY6InZiaomvedVJbQ4inXOyvcQ7Hc_E. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

APA Style

Finio, B. (2020, November 20). Water Striders & Surface Tension. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Phys_p107/physics/water-strider-surface-tension?class=AQWPsAugpC-ymS0_S1-O-xs0vYP9YoGmqJySOupJRw7PJ1sIFBwnZZvAXokz5YDfwCtNX7ZuJckONK84KWToGFl4El5LAMBXmFttRY6InZiaomvedVJbQ4inXOyvcQ7Hc_E


Last edit date: 2020-11-20

Experimental Procedure

For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk (*) at the end of the title.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

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