A rubber band may seem a bit simple to even need to be invented, but rubber doesn't come tumbling out of Para rubber trees in convenient rubber-band form!
Ancient Mayan Indians in Central America used sap from the rubber tree combined with juice from morning glory vines to make latex that was more elastic and less brittle than rubber alone, and they used the latex to secure their axe heads to the handles. Eventually various groups of Central American Indians made clothing, bottles, and other rubber products, and Europeans were very interested in rubber when they conquered the Amerindians and discovered their ingenious rubber creations. In the 1700s and 1800s, a variety of people created elastic fastenings for gloves, shoes, stockings, and suspenders out of rubber, and Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, which could stand up to weather better than natural rubber.
On this date in 1845, Englishman Stephen Perry patented the rubber band. He used vulcanized rubber in his bands, which he invented to hold papers and envelopes together. These days, most rubber bands are created from synthetic rubber made from crude oil.
There are about a million and three ways to use rubber bands besides for holding papers and envelopes together...everything from keeping rolled-up posters from unrolling to making a ponytail, and from holding a bag of candy closed to bundling together asparagus spears at the grocery store.
Here are some fun things to do with rubber bands:
- A time-honored custom is making a ball out of rubber bands.
- A lot of people spend time and money buying rubber band guns. This video shows how to make one out of Legos. (They are specialty Legos!) A much simpler rubber band gun can be made just using your finger. NOTE: All guns are dangerous, including rubber band guns. Please never-never-never aim a rubber band at a person or animal!!!!
- Make a rubber band powered airplane.
- Make a rubber band guitar.
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