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  • Gloria Hoffner

Flying Peep Show (How NOT to ride a seesaw)

Peeps, marshmallow treats made just for Easter can also be used to teach a physics lesson.

We've all heard the expression: Give me a lever and I can move the world. And most of us have played on a seesaw. We learned not to jump off before the device was level or our seesawing partner would get painful jolt. But why does this happen?

The explanation is in the Easter flying peeps experiment!


Materials: Clear table, toilet paper tube, 12 inch ruler, and a peep. Balance the ruler over the toilet paper tube and place the peep on the part of the ruler resting on the table. Final step, hit the elevated part of the ruler with your hand forcing it down onto the table and watch what happens to the peep! Result: The peep will fly into the air. Why? A seesaw is a lever in action. For our experiment, the ruler is the lever placed on a pivot, in this case a toilet roll tube, and the ruler rests on the pivot point called a fulcrum, which for this example is the center of the toilet paper tube.


When the elevated end of the the lever, our ruler, is pushed down it becomes a device which transmits energy. This means it exerts force on an object, the peep, over a distance. The result, the transmitted energy forces the peep up into the air.

Levers help the user lift objects so heavy a person could never pick them up. The creator of the lever is unknown. However, in 260 BC, Greek Archimedes famously said, "Give me a place to stand and rest my lever on, and I can move the Earth."

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