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How to make a Wobbly Woodpecker physics toy

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“Before there were electric motors, grandfather clocks and giant tower clocks were powered by gravity,” explains technology teacher Slater Harrison. “Weights were pulled up. As they slowly fell, they powered the gears of the clock.”

“Similarly, our woodpecker gains potential gravitational energy as we lift it to the top of the rubber band. Once it starts going, the potential energy is converted to kinetic (moving) energy.”

how to make a wobbly woodpecker physics toy
How do you make this this Wobbly Woodpecker physics toy? Gather scissors, tape, glue, crayons or markers, the side of a cereal box, a thin rubber band, and a paper straw. Science teacher and author Alom Shaha demonstrates how to make this oscillating paper woodpecker in the video above:

“I learned how to make this charming β€œwobbly woodpecker” over at Slater Harrison’s wonderful website β€œScience Toymakerβ€œ. I was delighted when Slater, who seems to be something of a kindred spirt, said I could use his template and share it here with you.”

Read more about the science behind the toy’s motion here.

completing the wobbly woodpecker
Alom Shaha is the author of Mr. Shaha’s Marvellous Machines: Adventures in Making Round the Kitchen Table. Follow Mr. Shaha’s Books on YouTube for more tutorials.

Plus, Slater Harrison also shares a variation on the template design, created by Joel Henriques at

Make more DIY physics projects via videos on TKSST:
β€’Β How to make DIY ramp walker physics toys
β€’Β The Engineering of the Drinking Bird
β€’Β How to make Mr. Shaha’s Balancing Bird
β€’Β How to make a Popsicle Stick Chain Reaction
β€’Β How to make a cotton ball launcher

Bonus video: How A Children’s Toy Led To An Essential Medical Device.

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