On this dopey little blog that literally no one reads (including our authors, who can’t evne be bothered too proffred this carp), we talk a lot about science and we provide some good—and some not-as-good—ideas for experiments to help explain sciencey stuff. But how do we know these experiments will work?
It’s simple: Scientific Method.
Demonstrating Scientific Method Via Scientific Method (Mind. Blown!)
Hopefully, you’ve got at least one person to demonstrate this to and/or with. If you’re just doing the demonstration for your own edification, that’s perfectly fine and all, but it sort of defeats the purpose if you’ve read this post and you already know how this “experiment” is going to work.
Give each person you’re demonstrating to/with (“demonstratee”) a sheet of paper. If there’re a whole bunch of them, put them in groups and give each group a sheet of paper. The bigger the paper, the better, but a standard piece of printer paper is fine. Make sure each person or group has a writing utensil, as well.
Have e’rybody lay their paper flat on their desk, or a table, or the floor, or what-have-you. Then, ask the demonstratees how many times they think they’ll be able to fold the paper in half. You’ll likely get as many different answers as there are sheets of paper.
Have them all write down their guesses for posterity—have them write right on the paper in front of them, the paper they’ll be folding shortly. Then, give them all a separate sheet of paper on which to document their findings as they go.
Then, let them start folding. Remember, each fold has to halve the paper or it won’t work out right. They can fold it any way they want—left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top—as long as the paper is halved every time.
And, of course, have them record their progress on their second piece of paper—every step should be written out (doesn’t have to be super-detailed), as scientific method suggests.
Science Within Science: Scienception
In addition to being kinda fun and kinda goofy, this demonstration is an easy introduction to the scientific method and a good way to give kids practice in using it. In this experiment, the specifics (and I’m using that word very, very loosely) of the scientific method are:
- Question/problem: “How many times can the paper be folded in half?”
- Hypothesis: Kids’ guesses as to how many folds can be folded
- Materials: One sheet of paper (per kid/group); pencil and separate paper to record data
- Procedure: Folding the paper in half until it can no longer be folded
- Results: The actual number of folds achieved and the demonstratees’ accompanying written conclusions
For the Record
At most, your demonstratees will have achieved seven folds. With each fold, the number of layers of paper that must be folded doubles (after one fold, you have two layers; after two folds, four layers; three folds, eight layers; etc.). By the time the eighth folds is made, there will be 128 layers—at this point, it is effectively impossible to fold the paper any more.
Even with a giant piece of paper, it is extremely difficult to achieve more than seven folds.