4A30.80 Heat Rubber Bands


Thermal expansion/contraction, entropy


A wooden metre stick, with a pivot closer to one end of the stick, is held down by rubber bands on the shorter end such that the the other end barely touches the table. As the rubber bands are heated up by the heat gun, the polymers making up the rubber band experience an increase in entropy. This causes the rubber band to contract and shorten. As a result, the longer end of the metre stick is lifted off the table.



  • [1] Wooden metre stick
  • [1] Pivot
  • [1] Lab stand
  • [1] 90-degree clamp
  • [1] Aluminum bar
  • [1] Heat gun
  • Rubber bands

Classroom Assembly

  1. Place the pivot, with a metre stick attached to it, on the table and position the pivot towards one end of the stick.
  2. Place the lab stand near the shorter end of the stick, clamping the bar directly under the metre stick.
  3. Loop 2 rubber bands around both the stick and the bar.
  4. Adjust the height of the clamp such that the longer end of stick barely touches the table.
  5. Plug in the heat gun.

Important Notes

  • Be sure not to put the heat gun too close to the rubber band while heating it
  • Give the rubber band some time to cool down before touching it
  • Use the "Cool" mode of the heat gun to speed up the cooling down process
  • Cool off the heat gun for a few seconds when done


  1. Set the heat gun mode to "Hot" and turn it on to heat up the rubber bands.
  2. Observe the longer end of the stick is slowly lifted off the table.
  3. Set the heat gun mode to "Cool" to cool down the rubber bands.
  4. Observe the stick's height decreases gradually until it touches the table.
  5. Turn off the heat gun.


Additional Resources


  • PIRA 4A30.80


  • Don't attempt this at home!

Last revised

  • 2017


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If you have any questions about the demos or notes you would like to add to this page, contact Ricky Chu at ricky_chu AT sfu DOT ca.