Scenario G

Consider a completely new scenario where three syringes are connected by a small plastic tube. All three plungers are pulled out to 15. What would happen if you push the plunger of syringe A down to 5 and the plunger of syringe C down to 10? Make your prediction before clicking on the link to see what happens.

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The plunger in syringe A went down to 5, the plunger in syringe C went down to 10, and the plunger in syringe B went up to 30. Did any of you predict that? What made you think that might happen?

Some of you may have noticed that in all of our scenarios, the total “volume” inside of the syringe(s) always stayed the same. If the total volume inside of the syringe(s) was 25 mL before you pushed or pulled on the plunger, then the total volume would still be about 25 mL after you had released the plunger.

In this case, the total volume of the three syringes was 45 mL before: 15 + 15 + 15 = 45

And the total volume of the three syringes was still 45 mL after: 5 + 30 + 10 = 45

Does this über-pattern work with all of the scenarios we have tested so far? You bet. Not only does this über-pattern predict what will happen in the four main types of scenarios we have already tested, it also helps us to make predictions in all kinds of other scenarios. That’s what makes an über-pattern so powerful.