Yener, our host in Istanbul, taught us this nifty trick over a dinner of "Kokorech" which is spicy lamb tripe.
Here's Yener with the toothpicks, about to start out.
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Step 1: Break But Don't Separate
Take 5 toothpicks and break them in the middle. Fold them over but don't separate the two halves. Make sure you don't break them apart. There need to have some slivers still connecting the two halves.
Step 2: Arrange Thus
Lay them out in an arrangement like this, with the broken ends inward. Like an "Asterisk".
Step 3: Just Add Water
Take a teaspoon of water and gently pour it in the center of the arrangement.
Step 4: Magic!
As soon as they get wet the toothpicks start moving!
They flex their little broken-splinter muscles and push against each other.
Step 5: Toothpickinetic Sculpture
They push and flex and the asterisk grows and morphs into a big Star!