Isn’t it fun to make a mess with your kids, and maybe teach them something at the same time?
Science experiments you can do at home don’t have to be hard, they don’t have to be costly, and they don’t have to be too messy. But to keep a kid’s interest, they have to be fun!
Oobleck is something Beth introduced me to when she taught 6th grade science in Kennebunk. It’s a colloid. Another way to describe it is to say that it’s a non-newtonian fluid. A simpler way to describe it is that it has the properties of both a liquid and a solid at the same time. You can grab it and break off a piece of the whole, much like you can with clay or play-doh, but if you stop moving it around, it will literally melt out of your hands and act like a liquid.
1 cup water
1.5-2 cups corn starch
a few drops of food coloring (to make it interesting)
Start with putting your water in a big bowl. Add food coloring to your heart’s content. Then, add about a cup of corn starch. Stir with a spoon. Slowly add the remainder of the starch, stirring with a spoon if you wish (it gets hard), or more likely mashing with your hands. Somewhere along the line, you’ll reach a consistency that’s appropriately weird. You can make a lump of oobleck, place it in your hand, then watch it “melt” and start dripping off the sides. Don’t worry that you’ve made it too stiff. You can just add a little bit more water, and start over.
This is a fun-sized batch. You can give a little bit each to a bunch of kids, and everyone’s happy. Or, you can play with it all yourself. Since it’s just water and corn starch, clean-up’s a cinch. Just rinse with water.
We made a batch the other day, partly to show the kids that we’re still cool, and partly to see what Jake would do.
Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t a fan. We used red food coloring, so our oobleck was pink. If you listen carefully, you’ll see that Jake calls it “strawberry water milk.” That’s a pretty apt description. I knew he’d never touch it, but Beth saves the day by offering his dishwashing gloves. Even then, when he dares get close enough, you can hear him say, “I’m gonna be sick!” when he’s had enough.
Things to consider when watching the video: 1. If given the right tools, even a kid like Jake with serious sensory problems and anxiety regarding new and unfamiliar things can interact and experience science in a real way. 2. My kitchen isn’t usually that disorganized. We had had a very busy day. Don’t judge me.
GAK, or slime, or silly putty is fun and easy to make. We screwed ours up by getting a little over-ambitious.
1 teaspoon borax
1 ½ cups of water
½ cup (4 ounces) of glue
a few drops of food coloring
In one bowl, mix a cup of water and the glue. We used white glue, but Beth remembers now that clear glue works best. In a separate bowl, dissolve the borax into the remaining ½ cup of water (along with the food coloring). When you mix the two, things will begin to polymerize immediately. This is another example of where spoon mixing may turn quickly to hand-mashing because of how sticky it gets. Most of the solutions should mix. We tried a double batch, and it didn’t really work out that well. Beth further remembers (hindsight indeed being 20/20), that for some reason double-batching slime doesn’t work.
Things to consider when watching the video: 1. It didn’t work like it was supposed to. 2. My iPad ran out of memory, so it cuts out at 37 seconds! Well, live and learn.
We tried in vain to add more borax, more glue, etc. Once we’d gone wrong with the amounts, it was impossible to fix. The resultant mess was slimy, sticky, and pretty disgusting.
Science experiments for kids can be cheap, easy, and fun. Especially if you follow the directions and don’t stray too far from what you’re told. Also, kids seem to learn better when they can literally roll up their sleeves and get dirty. Except of course for Jake.