NASA’s Viral ‘Standing Broom’ Challenge Isn’t Actually Magic

It's February. We're deep in the doldrums of winter. It would seem like the perfect time for a weird viral phenomenon to distract us from the lousy weather — and we've got one of the weirder ones yet.

In 2020, it's all about broomsticks.

Unsplash | HS Spender

Usually, we're only interested in brooms for sweeping, or maybe to dress up like a witch, but they're central to the new phenomenon. I guess anything's better than Tide pods.


Twitter | @mikaiylaaaaa

The beginning of this challenge is murky. Some say that NASA claimed in a quickly-deleted tweet that February 10, 2020, was the only day that brooms could stand up on their own.

Everyone got in on it.

Twitter | @itsdougthepug

From random Twitter people to random Twitter dogs, everyone seemed to be doing it, all under the vague idea that NASA had somehow challenged them to do so.

The takes were hot.

Twitter | @JoserT

Like any viral phenomenon, tweets alternated between the earnest folks trying the challenge for themselves, and those who were too cool for school and found ways to cast shade.

It seemed to be working.

Twitter | @CoachBurns2

Coach Burns' tweet was in jest (I hope). But nevertheless, everyone seemed to be able to balance a broomstick on February 10th. Maybe it was, like, swamp gases and gravitational pull or something?

This guy was doing it before it was cool.

Twitter | @Hospey

A third subset of Twitter reactions followed a template like this — basically saying they'd been wise to the phenomenon all along, but never thought it was cool enough to bring up until now.

Minor league hockey teams got involved.

Twitter | @LVPhantoms

As they're wont to do, bush-league sports teams jumped on the trending hashtag in a bid to win social media engagement. This isn't a broom, but the fact that it's a hockey stick almost makes it more impressive.

Some people were next level.

Twitter | @dyanytaatnaydh

There must have been extra gravitational pull going on in this store to enable these folks to create a veritable maze of self-supporting broomsticks.

It kind of got out of hand.

Twitter | @MattDevittWINK

Maybe everyone's got a touch of winter-induced cabin fever. Maybe internet trends have hit a new nadir. Regardless, the broomstick challenge blew up.

What's the truth?

Twitter | @ExploreSpaceKSC

Some accounts with actual scientific and astronomy know-how eventually decided that enough was enough, telling everyone that you can balance a broomstick any old day of the year if you care to do so.

Finally, NASA weighed in.

Twitter | @NASA

This is probably the dumbest thing an astronaut and a scientist have ever had to team up to prove, but NASA did, in fact, prove that broomstick balancing is a normal thing.

It's over...for now.


After the cinnamon challenge and after Tide pods, the broomstick challenge actually seems wholesome and safe. We'll see if it returns on February 10, 2021.