Silly Physics with Silly Putty


Poster frame from video. Download video below.
Poster frame from video.
Download video below.

The familiar and fun properties of the complex fluid called Silly Putty or Tricky Putty are explored in a video developed by stage one students (first year university students).



Principles Illustrated

Silly Putty or Trick Putty is made of long chain molecules that can slide past each other on a long time scale but not on a short time scale. The result is that silly putty bounces off another lump of silly putty if thrown at it but sticks to another lump if left in contact for a second or two. Other similar properties are shown in the video.


Download video (right-click and “save link as”): Sillyphysics.m4v

NCEA & Science Curriculum

This can be used as a starting point for investigations.


This is just good fun. Have the pupils watch the video then play with silly putty themselves.


Complex fluids are all around us and are very important in our technology. A number of world-class research programs in the MacDiarmid Institute involve complex fluids.


Individual teachers are responsible for safety in their own classes. Even familiar demonstrations should be practised and safety-checked by individual teachers before they are used in a classroom.

Related Resources

Teaching Resources

Would you like to contribute lesson suggestions? Contact us.


  • This video was produced by Victoria University Stage One Students Bethan Cropp and Huyen Nguyen.
  • The use of Silly Putty as an example of a complex fluid was suggested by Dr. Gerald Pereira who provided technical advice to Bethan and Huyen.
  • The worms animation was used with permission from Howard Margolius.

This teaching resource was developed with support from

The MacDiarmid Institute
Faculty of Science, Victoria University of Wellington
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington


Copyright and fair use statement