#Tinker: Bed of Nails Experiment

by STEM Scouts

In the same way you may have seen performers—or even experienced yourself at popular science discovery centers—lay across a bed of nails and feel no pain, you can replicate this experiment at home on a small-scale.


  • A box of thumbtacks
  • A few regular sized latex balloons


  1. Place one tack on a table pointed side up.
  2. Blow up a balloon and tie it off at the end.
  3. Now, gently press the balloon to the tack. What happens? It likely popped pretty easily!
  4. This time, place a few dozen tacks together on the table pointed side up.
  5. Blow up another balloon and tie it off at the end.
  6. Try pressing the balloon against the tacks. What happens this time?
  7. The balloon now requires much more force to pop. You can try evenly spacing out the tacks or clustering them together. Starting with a few dozen, see how many you can take away until it easily pops.

How Does It Work?

According to Steve Spangler Science:

“When you pop the first balloon with the nail, all of the pressure is concentrated on one point on the balloon so the balloon easily pops. When you place the balloon on the bed of nails, the pressure points are spread all across the surface of the balloon. Just like the balloon, when a person lies on a bed of nails, their body is evenly distributed across the surface of the nails.”

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