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ERIC Number: EJ1000743
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Pages: 3
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Elastic Properties of Plasticine, Silly Putty, and Tennis Strings
Cross, Rod
Physics Teacher, v50 n9 p527-529 Dec 2012
How would a physicist describe the elastic properties of an apple or a banana? Physics students and teachers are familiar with the elastic properties of metal springs, but are likely to be less familiar with the elastic properties of other common materials. The behavior of a metal spring is commonly examined in the laboratory by adding masses to measure the change in the extension or compression. A banana or an apple or any other relatively soft material could just as easily be examined in the same way, as an additional and entertaining exercise. Even if an apparatus is not readily available to undertake such an experiment, it can easily be constructed. In this article I compare the elastic properties of Plasticine (a brand of modeling clay), Silly Putty, and tennis strings. All three materials behave in the same qualitative manner when stretched or compressed slowly, despite the fact that they are quite different when stretched or compressed rapidly and despite the fact that Plasticine and Silly Putty are both much softer than a tennis string. Typical results for a slow deformation are shown in Fig. 1. (Contains 3 figures.)
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A