Chain Reactions

May 4, 2020  |   Making, Tinkering, Simple Machines

One thing leads to another in this exploration of cause and effect.

Joel Gordon gets the ball rolling with this introduction to a favorite activity in the Amazeum's 3M Tinkering Hub. Gather up some household items and see how many reactions you can cause. 

Take a deeper dive into Chain Reactions with these videos from our friends at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  

Materials | Supplies

  • items to build with and give height
    • cardboard tubes
    • cardboard
    • pvc pipe
    • scrap wood 
    • plastic toy car track
  • tools
    • clamps
    • scissors
  • tape, glue, hot glue
  • objects that move or roll
    • marbles
    • tennis, ping pong, golf balls
    • wheeled toys
    • dominoes
  • fun items
    • flyswatter
    • pingpong paddle
    • bells
    • funnel
    • boots or shoes
    • DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes and cases
  • let your creativity drive your reaction

Concepts Explored

  • cause and effect
  • momentum
  • physics
  • simple machines
  • problem-solving

Discovery Starters

Can you knock over a heavy object with a light object? 

How much force does it take to start your reaction?

Why does the speed of a ball increase or decrease when a ramp is raised or lowered?

How does the surface you build your reaction on change the reaction?

Explore Further

How long of a chain reaction can you make?

Try different sized objects in your chain reaction. Does the reaction work the same? 

Can you make a slow chain reaction?