Science Experiments

Matchstick Boats and Surface Tension

Sat, 27th May 2006

Part of the show Naked Science Q&A and the Science of Happiness

What you Need

A Bowl of Water

A bowl of water


A couple of matches

Some Soap

Some soap or washing up liquid

What to do

Fill the bowl with water just a cm or so is fine

Gently float the matchstick on the water.

Place a tiny drop of washing up liquid near the matchstick, it is easiest to do this with another matchstick.


What may happen

You should see that the matchstick zips away from the washing up liquid as soon as you drop the washing up liquid on the water. 


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