After School Activity: Paper Frogs and Physics

By Rachel Miller

STEM
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For today’s STEM activity, we’ll learn about physics – and how energy can be stored as potential energy. An example of potential energy is how a rock at the top of the hill has great potential to fall. You can also see this principle in action with a spring. When you push it down it has a potential to jump back up into place. When the spring jumps or the rock is falling, that is called kinetic energy or energy in motion.

Today, we’ll explore these two principles with origami frogs.

Steps: Use a rectangle piece of paper. We used a piece that was 8 inches wide and four inches across. Fold it in half (like a hamburger), then fold it in half again. These lines are your guides.

Next, bring the sides into the center, making a right-angled triangle. Unfold it and repeat with the opposite side. When unfolded, you will now have “X”s on each half of your sheet.

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Pinch the top and bottom of each triangle and fold the paper in on itself. After doing this to both sides of the sheet, you will be left with a triangle. Fold the “flaps” of the triangle up to the corner – repeat to make little squares on opposite sides of your square.

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Flip your paper over and bring the sides of the square that do not have the little squares to line up along the center of your square. The fold should resemble a paper airplane. Turn your paper over and fold the flaps in the small squares out – these will be your legs.

Bend the non-pointy side up to create a crease line. You will need this line in the next step. Fold the not-pointy side (on the airplane side of the frog) up to the points. As you fold it up two pockets will be revealed. Put both sides of the “airplane flaps” into the pockets that you recently discovered.

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Now is where the science starts. With every fold of the paper you are making your frog thicker, and when you fold that thickened paper over itself the paper wants to correct to its natural stat – being flat – and it bounces.  Basically, in the back of the frog you created a paper “spring” with the folds.  As you push down on the back of your frog the spring is depressed – potential energy is stored.  When you let go, the frog leaps into the air – the potential energy is spent in the form of kinetic energy and your frog flies.

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If you have any questions or need additional support then please watch this video tutorial. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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