Comparing Implements for Writing

4.3 based on 7 ratings

Updated on Dec 09, 2011

Grade Level: 3rd to 5th; Type: Physical Science


This project determines which implements do the best job of applying ink to paper.

Research Questions:

  • Which device did the best job of applying ink to paper?
  • What advantages did some devices have over others?
  • What were some disadvantages?


  • Ink (or food coloring)
  • Paper
  • Nail
  • Toothpick
  • Plastic drinking straw
  • Pen nib and pen holder
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen or pencil
  • Lab notebook

Hint: You should be able to find a pen nib and pen holder at an art supply store.

Experimental Procedure

  1. Dip the nail into the ink or food coloring. Draw a straight line from right to left on your paper. When your hand is close to the edge of the paper, lift it up and begin another line, this time moving from left to right. Repeat this process all the way down the page. How easy was it to apply the ink using the nail? Record your observations.
  2. Repeat the above steps, but this time, use a toothpick to apply the ink or food coloring.
  3. Cut the tip of the straw at an angle. Repeat the above process with the straw.
  4. Repeat using the pen nib and pen holder.
  5. Now attempt to make loops with each of the devices. Record your observations.
  6. Analyze your results. Which device drew the longest lines? Did you have difficulties drawing loops? If so, what were they? What advantage did the straw have over the toothpick and nail? Were there any disadvantages?

Terms/Concepts: ink, pen nib, pen holder

References: More Than 100 Experiments for Science Fairs and Projects, by Vicki Cobb (Scholastic, 2001).

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