Slinky: Metal vs. Plastic

based on 13 ratings
Author: Sofia PC

Grade Level: 4th - 6th; Type: Physical Science


In this experiment, students will find out whether a plastic slinky works as well as a metal slinky when “walking it down the stairs."

Research Questions:

What causes the “walk down the stairs” slinky trick to work?

The slinky has been enjoyed by many children and adults alike for 70 years since its creation by Richard James in the early 1940s. The toy itself is simple, yet kids can learn from it lessons on momentum and physical science.


  • Metal slinky
  • Plastic slinky of the same size
  • Flight of stairs
  • Timer

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Stand at the top of a flight of stairs.
  2. Get the metal slinky and place one end at the top step of the stairs. Hold the other end slightly up and give it a little push forward onto the next step. Watch as it “walks down”. Time this.
  3. Do the same with the plastic slinky. Note that this trick may not work on some plastic slinkys, but it is still a part of your results.
  4. Evaluate your results. Which slinky took longer to walk down? Why?

Terms/Concepts: Slinky; Momentum; Weight; Incline plane


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