Levitating Slinky

Levitating Slinky (1)

Slinky play is such pure childhood fun. We have a new slinky from the dollar store, and mostly Travis just had a free-for-all with it today. But we threw in a tiny bit of science, too.

First Travis simply wanted to check out all the ways this toy can wobble, wiggle, and stretch. He loved turning it into a stretched-out U shape and calling it a smile.

Levitating Slinky (2)

And of course we gave it the classic try down the stairs.

But what’s really going on in a slinky? To investigate, we needed a smartphone with a slo-mo video camera. Stand in a clear space and hold the slinky still, then drop it.

Ideally, what you’ll capture is that the bottom coil doesn’t move until the upper ones catch up to it. That’s because the tension of the coils is holding them together, even as gravity is pushing the slinky down. This makes the slinky appear to levitate just for a moment before it falls to the ground.

Our slo-mo camera wasn’t great at capturing this. I’d love to hear your results in the comments if you get a great shot!

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