Three Balls In a Jar of Sand

Science Project on Three Balls in a Jar of Sand :

Three balls in a jar of sand is an activity that is performed to demonstrate the effect of kinetic energy on the setting that comprises of balls and the sand. The energy is created by shaking the jar vertically that allows the sand particles to accumulate in one place.

The procedure is simple and finds a lot of use in the kitchen where women usually adopt this method to bring up the spoon that they forget to take out before filling the content in the jar. The procedure involves the movement among the particles and applies the concept of Bootstrap Percolation.

Material required

  • Three metal balls
  • Glass jar
  • Sand


  • sand

    Sand Dunes

    An empty glass jar is taken, and three metal balls are placed in it.

  • It is then filled with sand so that the balls are not visible. One needs to create an impact that jar is tightly filled by the sand.
  • Jar is vertically shaken constantly.
  • In few moments, the metal balls appear at the top of the sand much to the surprise of the audience.

The concept involved

  • The vertical shaking of the jar produces kinetic energy that results in keeping the sand particles in one place.
  • It involves the theory of percolation where like particles under the influence of energy caused by motion gets separated from the unlike particles.
  • The pressure created by the kinetic energy is maintained at such a level where it does not prove to be damaging.
  • If the pressure increases, the metal balls may collide with the walls of the jar and subsequently break it.
  • That is why; vertical motion of the jar is preferred to perform the experiment.


If the activity is seen from the start, it might not leave any impact. So, setting should be arranged in such a way those two jars should be taken – one filled with the sand and another metal ball are shown. The third jar containing metal balls and the sand is interchanged with only sand containing jar during the activity. Now if the jar is taken it leaves an impression as if balls from one jar and sand from another merged due to some magic.

Useful tips:

  • The trick is simple but requires a lot of practice. Audience need to be kept engaged by asking questions and allowing them to guess the future course of action.
  • The jar needs to be shaken vertically; horizontal movement may break the glass jar if it is hit by the metal balls constantly.

Such tricks can be used to make science projects. Normally, these are of entertainment value, and the presenter does not waste time in explaining the concept to the audience. The main idea is to entertain the audience with the science tricks. If these activities are chosen as the science project, these are sure to fetch bonus marks to the students. Teachers want their students to be conceptually strong and love to see them applying what is taught to them.

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