What Is the Water Cup Challenge? Latest TikTok Trend Labeled ‘New Jenga’

In news that might surprise some out there, TikTok’s latest rising “challenge” is a far more wholesome one that you might be used to.

The “Water Cup Challenge” has been growing in popularity this month since NFL star JuJu Smith-Schuster filmed a now-viral attempt at it with friends, resulting in the loser being thrown in the pool.

water cups and Jenga
Left: Stock image of a Jenga tower. Right: Stock image of water cups. A TikTok Challenge has been dubbed the “new Jenga” online.
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Unlike other trends on the app, of the ones that actually exist, the Water Cup Challenge is pure harmless fun, and is actually a great science lesson at the same time.

The challenge has been dubbed an alternative to Jenga, as a high-stack turn-taking game to see who can cause it all to fall down first. Instead however, participants simply fill up a glass of water in turns, whoever causes it to spill first loses.

It might sound easy but thanks to a little thing called science, making the water actually spill becomes a tense game when it’s down to the last bit. Surface tension of water happens when the molecules of water stick together, as molecules of water are attracted to one another, and fight against gravity. When the water gets to the top, it tends to ride up above the glass rim and create a bubble shape, instead of instantly spilling over.

Of course, the water can only hold on for so long, and that last drop of water is enough to break the water tension and cause it to eventually spill from the edge.

The challenge has been active on the app since 2021, but it’s only now becoming hugely popular after Smith-Schuster gained over 9 million views on his attempt. The video even spread across platforms, with one tweet of the clip gaining 20,000 likes. Users dubbed the game the “new Jenga” as one user labeled it a “sport [they] can get behind.”

In 2021, TikTok user @katiefeeneyy went viral with their hilarious attempt at the challenge, resulting in the water being poured over the loser’s head. While @mandyevette similarly garnered over 31 million views on their group trial of the “Water Cup Challenge.”

English soccer team Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. attempted the challenge on its official YouTube page too this week, with multiple players from the squad providing entertainment.

Adults aside, the challenge is actually perfect for children too. Pouring water is well-endorsed as a great practice to enhance motor skills in children, and something that also gained popularity on TikTok when the app watched one toddler’s journey to pouring a glass last year.

“Water pouring activities can help build a child’s concentration, control of body movement, and fine motor control,” writes Reach for Montessori, which endorses the Montessori method of education, favoring a child’s natural curiosity over formal teaching.

The challenge marks a difference from the others that prompt health and safety warnings from the app and officials alike. In 2021, the “Milk Crate Challenge” was removed from the app by TikTok after users began running up milk crates, attempting to climb the full structure, but often failing and causing injury.

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