Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Hands-on Activities

How can I get a quarter through a dime sized hole?

Summary

Can you think like an engineer? Try to solve a tricky size and shape problem in this activity.

What You Need

  • Piece of Paper
  • Dime - 1
  • Quarter - 1
  • Pen
  • Scissors

What To Do

  1. Draw an outline of the dime on the middle of a piece of paper.
  2. Cut out the circle you have just drawn. (Tip: Fold the paper in half, through the middle of the circle, to cut it out).
  3. Your challenge: Try to get the quarter through the hole without making any cuts or rips in the paper.

Discovery

What’s happening?

The quarter can be made to pass through the hole by cradling the quarter in the hole, such that it rests in between the two folds of the paper. Then rotate the paper upward as you hold it on either side of the hole. If you play with it just a little, the quarter will slip through the hole.

When the paper is folded and flat, the opening is circular, and the size of the dime. The quarter cannot pass through the hole. When you rotate the two sides of the paper up, the hole becomes elliptical and this actually increases the area of the opening, enough for the quarter to slip right through!

What’s happening?

The quarter can be made to pass through the hole by cradling the quarter in the hole, such that it rests in between the two folds of the paper. Then rotate the paper upward as you hold it on either side of the hole. If you play with it just a little, the quarter will slip through the hole.

When the paper is folded and flat, the opening is circular, and the size of the dime. The quarter cannot pass through the hole. When you rotate the two sides of the paper up, the hole becomes elliptical and this actually increases the area of the opening, enough for the quarter to slip right through!

Why does it matter?

Everyone is faced with a tricky problem at some point! Being able to think through the problem and come up with a solution can take critical thinking and creativity. Engineers and technologists often have to come up with solutions to new problems in their work.

Why does it matter?

Everyone is faced with a tricky problem at some point! Being able to think through the problem and come up with a solution can take critical thinking and creativity. Engineers and technologists often have to come up with solutions to new problems in their work.

Investigate further

For more information on this topic check out these Let's Talk Science resources:

Investigate further

For more information on this topic check out these Let's Talk Science resources: