By Audra D.

Don’t let gravity keep you down! Instead, use it to explore this month’s Simple Science experiment. The Lincoln High Dive can be done with materials you most likely already have at home. While this experiment may seem like a magic trick, it is also a chance to discuss gravity and Newton’s laws of motion. Check out these titles from Hoopla to learn more:  What is Gravity? and Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion.

Materials needed

  • Ruler 
  • Scissors 
  • Pen or pencil 
  • Tape
  • 1 piece of construction paper
  • Small cup 
  • Pennies


  1. Use your ruler to measure a strip 1 inch wide by 12 inches long on the construction paper. Cut out this strip after you have measured.
  2. Tape the two ends of your strip together to form a circle. The diameter of your circle (how far across it is in the middle) should be between 3 and 4 inches.
  3. Place the paper circle on the cup so it balances on top.
  4. Balance your penny on the top of the paper circle. Make sure the penny is positioned over the top of the cup.
  5. Put your pencil inside the circle without touching it at first. With one fast movement, fling the circle straight to the right or left with your pencil. If you do this correctly the hoop flies out of the way and the penny will fall straight down into the cup.
  6. For extra fun, put a little water in the bottom of your cup to watch Lincoln make a splash!

Questions to ask

  • Does it matter how big or small your circle is? Try making a few different circles with your leftover paper and try the experiment again.
  •  Does it matter how fast you pull the hoop to the side? Try to move the circle as slowly as you can out of the way. Try again as fast as you can.
  • Will this only work with a penny? Try a different coin or small object to see if the experiment still works!

How it works

This experiment uses the laws and science of physics! Isaac Newton’s first law of motion says an object at rest will stay at rest until acted on by an outside force. The penny is resting on top of the circle. The penny will not move until something happens to it. You are pulling the paper circle out of the way so fast that the only force acting on the penny is gravity. The force of gravity takes over and pulls the penny straight down into the cup.

Audra D.
Adult & Teen Librarian

Audra D.

With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

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