Lauren Hodson | March 2017

STEAM Prank: Rattlesnake Eggs

This April Fool’s Day, add some STEAM to the celebration with a prank that is an exciting mix of the science behind tension/energy, angles in mathematics, visual art, and technology. It’s called STEAM prank!

One year, a mellow student came up to me, holding an envelope, and asked if I wanted to see his petrified rattlesnake eggs. Um… of course, I did! When I opened the envelope, a flapping sound and spinning sensation caused me to immediately scream and throw the envelope to the ground. The screams turned to squeals of delight when it was revealed to me that it was an ingeniously designed prank using household items and including endless hours of fun. So of course, we had to make these in class.

Building the Rattlesnake Eggs For A STEAM prank

There are many variations to this STEAM prank and can use a variety of available materials. I happened to have an entire bucket of buttons that were donated to the art classroom, so that is what is pictured in the process steps.

Building the Rattlesnake Eggs Process, EducationCloset Building the Rattlesnake Eggs Process, EducationCloset


  • Long envelope (4” x 9” office envelope that can be folded in half)
  • Envelope Decorating Materials
    • Pencils, markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.
  • Pictures of Rattlesnakes and their eggs
  • Jumbo Paper Clips
    • Variations: Wire or Bobby Pins
  • Button with 2 or 4 holes (large enough to fit a rubber band through)
    • Variations: Washers, Metal O-Rings or Split Rings, Smaller piece of wire
  • Rubber Bands


Play the Prank on your students first! Not only does this act as a hook for the activity, but it is fun! Check out the prank in action.

  • Tip: Select a student who can take a joke and will not feel embarrassed because of the experience.

Visual Art/Design: design an envelope as a commercial package of rattlesnake eggs.

  • Brainstorm ideas for sentences that could be written on the envelope.
    • Ex. Keep in a cool place to prevent hatching.
  • Observe and analyze pictures of rattlesnakes.
  • Discuss what makes rattlesnakes unique, what patterns are seen on their bodies, what unique qualities do they have as a species, what shapes and forms are represented
  • Modification: These designs could be made using an online platform or design program on the computer.

Create “Rattlesnake Eggs”: Rubberband spinning effect

  • Cut a rubber band so that it is an elastic string
  • Thread the rubber band through the holes of the button. (This might be a little tricky depending on how wide the rubber band is and how small the buttonholes might be)
  • Form a jumbo paperclip into a 90-degree angle with loops at either end
  • Tie the rubber band to each loop of the paper clip

Test It!

  • While pinching the paper clip in your fingers, use your other hand to spin the button
  • Repeating until the rubber bands are twisted to their limit. Hold in place for the next step.
  • Carefully place the 90-degree angle of the paper clip in the bottom right angle of the long envelope.
  • Fold the envelope in half to keep it in place.
  • Hand it to someone and ask them to carefully open the envelope flap and peer inside, releasing the spinning button creating a flapping noise that will stun any unsuspecting person.

Document It!

  • In a hidden camera prank show format, have someone initiate the prank with a teacher, administrator, or another student. Secretly tape their reactions. Make sure they sign a “waiver” saying that you may include their reaction in a public video. Edit the hilarious reactions, along with design instructions, in iMovie or a presentation that can be shared for some April’s Fools Day fun!
  • Warning: Do not allow students to take them home until the end of the day or other teachers will be peeved by the distractions.

Helpful Instructional Links:

Create your own video of instructions for a flipped classroom, or create an instruction sheet for an added level of student independence and teamwork.

  • Instructions: With a Button and Wire Hanger HERE
  • Instructions: With A Plastic Bread Bag Clip HERE
  • In Action HERE

This STEAM prank can bring endless hours of fun and it quickly turned into a class favorite!

About the Author

Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.