Science + Art: Craft Stick Bracelets

We once again combined art with science to make these fun craft stick bracelets.
How do you get a craft stick to bend without breaking? Can you transform it into a new shape?
We answered these questions with a fun experiment.



Supplies Needed:
Craft sticks
Container large enough to hold your craft sticks flat
Drinking glass
Markers, washi tape, paint (or whaterever you want to use to embellish your bracelets)


Before beginning, we examined our craft sticks.
Do they bend? Not without breaking!
The dry wood is hard and strong, exactly why we use it for a building material. But, we can make them flexible.
Historically, steam has been used to bend wood for tool making, boats, musical instruments, furniture and more. We were able to get the same effect with boiling water.
Here’s how we did it:
Place your craft sticks flat in a container. We just used a plastic storage container.
Set this container someplace where you won’t need to move it for awhile.
Next, and it’s very important that a grown-up does this part, pour hot, boiling water over the sticks until they are submerged. You’ll need to leave them alone for 30-45 minutes. You may want to soak more craft sticks than you actually need to allow for mistakes.
Once your craft sticks have soaked for at least 30 minutes, it’s time to get them out and try to bend them.
I emptied the water and we started testing our sticks. We found them much more flexible than when they were dry.
But, we did discover that if you tried to bend them too quickly, the sticks would still break. Our discovery was that we needed to bend them slowly and gradually.
Once we did that we placed them inside our drinking glasses to mold them. We left them in the glasses overnight to dry. Once they are dry, they will hold the curve shape.
After pulling our sticks out of the glasses and marveling at their new shape, we decorated them to wear as bracelets.
The girls discovered they they could fit two curved sticks together to form a circle and make a perfect bracelet. It was fun and amazing to try to bend wood!
Have you ever tried this experiment? How did it work out for you?
Make This a Family Adventure
Cost: Under $5.00. Free if you already have craft sticks at home
Planning Time: 10 minutes (or less). You will need to gather your materials and boil your water.
Ages: Ideal for 5 years and up. Younger children can participate and have fun as long as parents are involved.
Time Needed: 1 hour needed for first step, which included about 30-45 minutes of soaking time. The craft sticks will need to dry overnight and then you will need about 20-30 minutes for decorating.
Note: Because this project requires drying overnight, plan this for a time when you will be able to have family time two days in a row. It’s a very fascinating project that even adults will like to do, so it is well worth the time spent.

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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