Jumping Shoes

Jumping Shoes

This is one of a pair of ‘Jumping Shoes’ in the Hands-on collection. They were invented for exercising, to be worn while jogging or jumping. They help to exercise muscles in your legs you never knew you had! “These used to be mine before I donated them to the Hands-on collection” says Sheila Knox, Head of Education and Programs. “You get a good workout just walking around in them for part of the day!”

They also turned out to be really useful helping people who were recovering from broken legs or joint injuries. Our legs need help getting back to strength when they haven’t been used for a while.

What makes the Jumping Shoes special are the four 4 cm metal springs attached to the flexible sole and also to the sole of the shoe. Springs hold energy when you change them from their original shape. The Jumping Shoes have ‘compression springs’. When you wear them, you compress, or push down one of your feet on the Jumping Shoe springs and make them smaller. Now they are storing energy! As you lift that foot off the ground the springs release the energy and expand back to their original length. The energy stored in the springs propels the shoes and you to bounce upwards. Moving around in the Jumping Shoes you are constantly getting more energy from the springs. They really put a ‘spring’ in your step!

Metal springs are all around us, and compression springs are found in many everyday objects. Many mattresses have springs to help us sleep comfortably. Couches are also more more comfortable if they have springs. Cars have springs so we won’t feel every bump in the road. Pogo stick springs work in much the same way as the Jumping Shoes. Think about how compression and release works with each of these objects.

Wind-up toys, door lock, elevator buttons and ballpoint pens are are a few more examples of objects that need compression springs to make them work.

Ask permission to take apart a ballpoint pen if there is one in your household. Find the spring. Put the pen back together exactly as you found it. What does spring allows us to do with the pen?

Great work!

Activity to try

Paper Springs

It’s easy to make a spring out of strips of paper. Watch the video with Sheila Knox, Head of Education and Programs to find out how.

It’s fun to play with your paper spring on its own, but there are many other things you can make with them. Watch this video to see how Sheila turned four paper springs into something surprising!

Sheila used a variety of papers to make other things out of paper springs. Watch this video to see what she came up with.


Here is more detailed information about how she made each item.

Have you turned your paper spring into something else?

Great work!

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