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by Suhail Ahanger


Using small straw pieces, we create a visual treat with the help of some thin metal wire wound into a spiral. Are our eyes sharp enough to decipher the snake?

Video Overview

    • No need to open the safety pins for this activity; they may remain secured throughout.

    • The ends of the binding wire are pokey, and should be kept away from your eyes or other sensitive areas

  1. Take a thin binding wire about 60 cm in length and wind it around a pencil/pen to form a spring .
    • Take a thin binding wire about 60 cm in length and wind it around a pencil/pen to form a spring .

    • Remove the spring from the pencil

    • Pull the two ends of the spring gently till you have a spiral, where each loop is about 1cm apart. Knot one of the loose ends such that it acts like a stopper.

    • Take 5-6cm pieces of each of the 4 colours of straw

    • Cut each one into much smaller pieces, about 3mm each in size

    • Ideally, you should have at least 6-8 small pieces of each colour

    • Insert the cut straw pieces, one-by-one, through the open end of the spiral wire.

    • You may choose to put one colour at a time (as shown), or alternate colours or randomly; the choice is yours!

    • Once all the straw pieces are placed , lock the open end of the spiral wire by making a small knot with the wire.

    • Hold the spiral wire vertically and observe the snake spiral down! Now flip it over and see it again!

    • Open one end of the spiral wire and insert a few safety pins and secure the end once again. See how this spirals down!

    • Do the same by placing only the safety pins in the wire

    • You may try putting any items with a hole - e.g. beads, ring magnets etc. - and in any combination, into the spiral wire, to enjoy playing with this wonderful toy!

    • Make sure the loops of the spiral are not too closely spaced. You can always stretch the wire a little bit more if they are.

    • The straw pieces need to be small!

    • Most often, the toy doesn't work when one or both of the above two issues are ignored

    • The ends of the spiral should be secured/knotted well enough so that the straw pieces don't spill out.

    • After some time, the wire can get a bit uneven and bent. You can easily straighten it out and re-wind it after that!

    • How would this work if you tried to make the spiral with a rubber band? Or with a cotton thread?

    • Before stretching it into a long spiral, your wire was like a spring. Would you consider a spring elastic? If so, why can't you make it from an elastic material (e.g. rubber band), but need something very inelastic (e.g. metal) to make it?

    • Given that the length your snake travels = (length of wire) - (length of snake), calculate the average speed with which it descends the spiral. Make the same measurement for different materials

    • The safety pins seem to bunch up while descending; why does this happen?

Finish Line

Suhail Ahanger

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