Making Origami Science Experiments by Michael LaFosse is a clever way to get kids to think about the world around them. This unusual origami book uses very simple paper models to help ask profound questions such as: what makes an airplane glide? Why does folding a sheet of paper allow it to stand upright?
Michael LaFosse does a good job of explaining the scientific method: all science experiments start with a question or a hypothesis, experiments are designed to test the hypothesis, and then finally, analysis of the data to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Of course, this is delivered in an easy, kid-friendly, and fun way.
If you drop a piece of paper it will flutter to the ground. How does this compare to the same piece of paper when the paper has been folded? It’s the same paper, but the resistance is less due to its compact shape. The movement of the paper is governed by its resistance against air particles.
If you stand a piece of paper on end, it will fall over. but if you fold the paper, even once, it will stand upright by itself. Why is that? If you pleat 3 or sheets of paper and arrange them as pillars, how many books can you balance on top? What gives paper its strength and rigidity?
The Table Kite (orange) is a simply-folded piece of paper. It is used to test how air pressure (blowing on it) can cause things to move.
The classic dart airplane is used to ask questions about air pressure, gravity, and balance.
Dish Soap Racing Boat studies the interaction of soap and water: soap breaks the surface tension of water causing the boat-like origami model to race across the water. It’s an interesting game even if your child is too young to understand the attractive forces between water molecules.
The Water Lily Buds (pink) is used to study water absorption and expansion. LaFosse describes expansion of the model in water as “blossoming”. Further experiments are encouraged with other papers such as wax paper or aluminum foil.
In the last two examples, LaFosse uses a paper boat and a paper box as measuring devices:
A few paper boats and a pitcher filled to the brim with water can be used to measure mass. How much water is displaced from the pitcher when you place different objects into the boat? Heavier objects displace more water than light objects. The amount of water spilled can be used to measure the object’s mass.
The classic masu box is used to measure volume. How many jelly beans can fit inside? How much stuff can the box hold? What is its volume?
Summary of Making Origami Science Experiments
This book features very simple origami models, indeed, one might ask “Why bother?” Well, the strength in this book is the way it connects simple paper art with complex scientific concepts. Depending on your child’s age, you can simplify or elaborate the scientific aspects of the models. This book works well as a stand-alone volume and as a member of the 12-volume “Kid’s Guide to Origami” set.