3 Superhero Science Activities

Who doesn't love a superhero? I have always been particularly fond of superheroes. My long journey from 70's D.C. Comics Super Friends to today's Marvel's The Avengers has always made me say "That was so cool! How did they do that ?" Let's look 3 very different superheroes to see what we can learn from their amazing powers.

1. Does Whatever a Spider Can!

Supplies needed: a penny, straw, string, crayons, scissors, 2 small magnets, plastic spoon or craft stick.

One of the coolest things about Spider-Man is that he can walk up walls. We know he was bitten by a radioactive spider but is it really possible for someone to walk up walls? Kind of, but it's something instead of someone. Spiders do, in fact, climb up walls. Scientists have discovered that spiders can stick to almost any surface. Many spiders do this by secreting a little bit of sticky silk onto their feet as they move across the surface, anchoring their feet in place. We can't climb up walls but we can experiment with adhesion. Adhesion happens when different molecules want to stick to each other. We will also experiment with the power of magnets to make Spidey move.

Try this:

Penny on your head: You can stick a penny to your head using the superpower of science! Remember we said that adhesion is the attraction between unlike molecules? Well, the molecules on your head and in the penny are different enough that they can stick to each other - just a little bit!

  • Breathe on a penny a few times and then press on forehead for a few seconds. Pennies should stick!

  • How does it work? When you breathe on the penny it gets a thin coat of moisture

that acts a bit sticky - think of how you may moisten your finger to turn a page. So now the molecules on your head and the molecules in the penny are attracted to each other and slightly “stick” to one another.

Spider-Man Flyer

Now we'll look at another kind of attraction -this time the attraction is magnetic. Some magnets can be very powerful. Some cranes use magnets to pick up huge objects like cars. Some magnets are not so powerful, and may be used just to stick the 100% on a spelling test to the fridge.

Experiment with your 2 magnets. You should find that magnets do 3 things:

  • Magnets can attract each other.

  • Magnets can repel each other.

  • Magnets can stick to other metals.

Let's try this:

  • Cut out and color Spider-Man template (below). There's two copies in case you need an extra. If you don't have a printer you can always draw one!

  • Cut 1" of straw and tape to his back. Also tape a magnet to his back.

  • Slide several feet of string through the straw. Tape each end down to a table or chair and see if you can get Spiderman to "crawl" down the string by pulling him along with a second magnet.

  • Tape your second magnet to a craft stick or a plastic spoon.

SpiderMan found here: SPIDER-MAN TEMPLATE

Key Terms: cohesion, attraction, repel