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Fortune Telling Fish

Fortune Telling Fish

A red, small, plastic fortune telling fish can tell your fate. Have you ever thought how it works? There is a science behind its curling up or wiggling, which is discussed in this article.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
A fortune telling fish adds fun to any occasion, particularly in kids' birthday parties. Kids simply love the way these fish moves in their palms. But, what is the reason behind their wiggling so? It is nothing but a plastic fish that wiggles, curls up, or flips off on its own when kept in your palm. And based on the movements, you can predict your future luck. Doesn't that sounds interesting? Read the back of the package and you will find the meanings of specific fish movements. More information on the working mechanism of this fortune telling toy is highlighted in the upcoming paragraphs.


Believe it or not, there is a scientific logic behind the working of a fortune telling fish. Try your understanding and predict what can be the factor for bending of this little plastic object. Is it the heat from your hand, or conduction of electricity, or sweat from your skin? The right answer is its composition. The chemical constituent of this toy is partly similar to that of a baby diaper. It is made up of long-stranded polymers (called sodium polyacrylate) that grab water molecules from the area of direct contact.

When you keep the fish in your palm, the polymer grabs moisture from the portion where it touches your palm. This alters the shape of the molecules in the particular area, at the same time increasing their volume. Both the change in shape and increased volume of the molecules cause some of the parts of this toy to swell. As a result, one side of the fish curls, which we decipher as movement. Thus, the magic fish bending takes place in a specific direction. The curling or wiggling movements depend on the way which you keep it in your palm.

To be more precise, it is the chemical constituent of the plastic fish that makes it wiggle or move. Hence, if you use the same polymer in other toys, say a plastic cookie or an imitation platter, they will move in a similar way as a fortune telling fish does. In another case, if you keep this toy in a bowl of water or let it submerge completely in water, then it will not curl or bend, as all the polymer molecules will grab water equally.

In case the fish floats on the water, all the molecules in the bottom side that come in contact with the water will swell up and the fish won't bend. Similarly, a submerged fish remains the same in shape, though it will increase in size. Experiment these hypothesis as a part of your practicals, and you can demonstrate the results. Once you are done with this toy-inspired science fair project, allow the plastic fish to dry in sun, and it will work as a brand new fortune telling fish. As you can see, this fish is not only a toy for kids, but it can also be used for chemistry demonstrations. In fact, many teachers use the same in classroom experiments.

This coming Christmas, order the fortune telling fish and spice up your party. The more number you buy, the more discount you will get. Buying 10 fish costs less than USD 9 and 50 fish costs only USD 16. So, shop around and may be you will get them at a discounted rate. A word of caution regarding this fish is that this is a toy played just for fun, and not for other intentions. Hence, do not take the meanings seriously. You can explain the movement phenomenon of this fortune teller after the party gets over.