Standing on Paper Cups Experiment

Standing on Paper Cups
Credit: science-sparks.com

Can a paper cup support a person’s weight? Ask your child to stand on one or two. Most definitely, the cups will be crushed. But did you know that if there are enough cups, they can actually support even an adult’s weight? Try the standing on paper cups experiment to see for yourself.

STEM concept: Engineering, pressure distribution
Challenge: Medium
Messiness: Low


• paper cups
• cardboard

Steps to follow

1. Place the paper cups on the ground.
2. Make sure that the cups are spaced evenly.
3. Place the cardboard on top of the cups.
4. Try to stand and walk across the cardboard.
5. If you have more cups and another piece of cardboard, you can add another layer and repeat the walking exercise.

The science behind the experiment

When a person tries to stand on just one cup, all of his/her weight falls on the cup and crushes it. With 8 paper cups evenly distributed on the ground, and the cardboard placed on top of them, the weight is distributed among the cups. This prevents them from getting destroyed.

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