Image from PBS Kids for Parents.

Popsicle Stick Explosion

Woven popsicle sticks are a blend of art, math, science and just enough mischief to make it an engineering feat of awesomeness!

  • Challenging
  • A Little Messy
  • 15 Minutes
  • Indoor

You Will Need

  • Large craft sticks – tongue depressor size work best, but popsicle sticks can also be used

  • A large flat surface area like the floor or a cleared table


  1. Younger scientists may need a little help in getting started. An extra pair of hands is often necessary while building the structure.
  2. Start weaving:
  3. Image from PBS Kids for Parents.
  4. The key thing to remember is that the vertical sticks run in an over/under pattern as seen in the photos above. Whenever the outside vertical sticks are on top, you’ll run a horizontal stick under them and over the center vertical line.
  5. Weave sticks until you’ve reached the desired length. End by placing a horizontal stick across the vertical ones to hold the stick bomb in place until you’re ready to release.
  6. When you’re ready, simply remove the last piece. Ka-boom!

Troubleshooting Tips

  • To help avoid accidental detonation, use books to hold the chain down as you go. This way if the section that you are working on explodes, you will not lose the whole chain.


  • What happens if you layer two sticks on top of each other for each piece of the structure? Will it double the amount of potential energy?
  • Many different styles of “weaves” can be done to achieve different blasts. Invent your own or search the Internet for other designs you can try!

How it works

The sticks get their kinetic energy from the stored potential energy derived from bending them under and on top of each other. Pull one stick from the structure and it releases the energy from the first link and a rush of kinetic energy flows through the chain!

Key Words

Potential Energy
Stored energy
Kinetic Energy
The energy of an object in motion