Monday Movies: flotillas and floating flowers

Doesn’t it always seem to happen; that a concept, or thing, or even a person doesn’t even feature in your life until suddenly it appears several times in a short period? This recently happened to me, firstly when I was reading this little book:

I picked it up for 50p from a charity shop, thinking it might be useful if I was ever doing some outreach work with children. It does have a really wide range of experiments; from those resembling “magic” if you want to captivate an audience, to simple tricks you can do with stuff at home and even more complex experiments, including ones that involve observations over long periods of time (for example growing plants). I think that’s a really useful concept to teach children – that science isn’t always instantaneous!

Anyway, there on page 134 was a little experiment entitled “water lily” which involved cutting a flower shape, a bit like this,

It was better than that, but you get the picture. The shape needs to be cut out from smooth writing paper, and coloured in with crayons if you’re feeling artistic. Then, carefully lay the flower on some water and the petals should “open” in slow motion due to capillary action in the fine plant fibre tubes the paper is made off.

Now, I thought this was a great idea, perfect for demonstrating the importance of water motion through vegetation.  Then I saw this concept taken to a whole new level. Check out Flotilla, a video installation by Etienne Cliquet where capillary action opens up beautiful and intricately cut shapes.

(C) Etienne Cliquet,

The video is here: Flotilla

(If anyone in interested, The Little Giant Book of Science Experiments is available from Amazon.)


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