How to build a black hole for a science fair project

Written by donny quinn
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How to build a black hole for a science fair project
Start your science fair project with a strong question to answer. (question mark image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

A black hole contains so much mass that an object within a certain distance cannot escape its gravitational pull; a feather would weigh as much as several billion tons near the "surface" of a black hole, according to Wichita State University. Although building a functioning black hole is currently impossible, you can create, by stretching fabric, a black hole replica that demonstrates the effect of gravity on the perception of light.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Stretched canvas
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Black stretch fabric
  • Stapler
  • White paint pen
  • Heavy weight
  • Rubber band

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  1. 1

    Remove the staples, using your flathead screwdriver, that attach the canvas to the stretcher bars on your stretched canvas.

    How to build a black hole for a science fair project
    For a simpler project, you can replace stretcher bars with any open box. (box image by Bartlomiej Nowak from
  2. 2

    Staple one side of your stretch fabric to the back of your exposed stretcher bars, in the same way that the canvas originally attached.

  3. 3

    Pull your fabric across the open surface of the stretcher bars and staple the fabric to the remaining three stretcher bars. Ensure that the fabric is flat but not tightly stretched.

  4. 4

    Draw large dots, circles and lines on the surface of the stretch fabric, in a fairly even pattern, using your white paint pen. These dots and lines represent light reflected off of objects in space.

  5. 5

    Place your heavy weight in the centre of the surface of the fabric. The stretching of the fabric represents the stretching of time and space around the black hole. As objects approach the black hole, increased gravity causes the light reflected by them to take longer to reach the viewer.

  6. 6

    Pull the weight in the centre of the fabric, creating a funnel on the surface. Tie your rubber band around the weight, so that it closes the fabric and prevents a viewer from seeing the weight.

Tips and warnings

  • A winning science fair project may procure college scholarships, such as the £650 scholarship offered to science fair project winners at Temple University. Louisiana State University lists the following requirements for winning science fair projects: creative and original research questions, an organised research display, the ability to comfortably discuss the information on the display, repeated measurements and the ability to differentiate accurate results from skewed results.

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