Hooked On Science – Pull the Tablecloth Out from The Thanksgiving Feast


PLEASE follow these safety precautions when doing any science experiment.
• ALWAYS have an adult present.
• ALWAYS wear the correct safety gear while doing any experiment.
• NEVER eat or drink anything while doing any experiment.
• REMEMBER experiments may require marbles, small balls, balloons, and other small parts. Those objects could become a CHOKING HAZARD. Adults are to perform those experiments using these objects. Any child can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Keep uninflated or broken balloons away from children.

• Several Heavy Dishes
• Tablecloth without a Hem
• Square Table with an Edge

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STEP 1: Place the tablecloth on the table and then arrange the heavy dishes on the tablecloth. Grab the edges of the tablecloth, quickly pull down toward the floor, and observe. Record your observations.
STEP 2: Place the tablecloth on the table again and arrange the heavy dishes exactly the same way you did before on the tablecloth. Grab the edges of the tablecloth, pull down toward the floor with more force than what you did the first time, and observe. Record your observations.
STEP 3: Compare the effects of the different strengths of pulls on the motion of the tablecloth. What happens to the dishes each time? Describe and provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of the dishes.

The dishes stay on the table as you quickly remove the tablecloth. This happens because of inertia. Inertia is the tendency of an object to resist change. The dishes resist the change, taking place underneath them, and remain in place. The heavier an object is, the more inertia it has. This is the reason why plastic or paper dishes will not work for this experiment. They do not have enough inertia and will not resist the change taking place underneath them.

Download these instructions here and check the Hooked on Science page for more science experiments.