Friday, December 3, 2010

DIY Science @ Home - Slime

Time for some more home science fun and experimenting.  This is still science, but we're not going to get all facty and precise.  Cause slime is slimy.  And it defies some things and it's a little over kids heads.  (Hello Nickelodeon....time to slime ya!  My sister once got slimed.  Totally off the point...but what was the name of that show when we were growing up where people got slimed?  It had that obstacle course in it.) 

So we're just going to play with some suspensions and polymers that are slimy.  This is a good Christmas break activity.  Join me....won't you?  It'll be fun, I promise.  Just a little messy.  Or more than a little messy. 

We'll be attempting 2 slimy things.  Cornstarch Slime and Green Gooey Slime (both otherwise known as Oobleck).  Be sure to read "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" by Dr. Seuss before or after doing these experiments.  Just because it's good to read.

CORNSTARCH SLIME (AKA OOBLECK)

Here's some other resources: (cause I'm not the expert)
Cornstarch Suspension at KidZone (one of my fav places for worksheets for my kiddos)
Goo Recipe with cornstarch from Colorado State Little Physics
Oobleck with Cornstarch from Science House (great ideas for elementary and high school levels)
Instructables

Some Key Facts:
1) Don't eat this.  It can be washed down the drain.  It's not harmful to skin.  It can grow mold if left out.
2) This is a suspension.  It can act like a liquid and a solid.  When you squeeze the cornstarch goo the molecules line up and make it feel like a solid.  When you stop squeezing the molecules relax and the goo acts as a liquid.
3) The cornstarch is "floating" in the water.  When you squeeze it, the particles are forced together.  When you stop squeezing, the water and cornstarch separate.  This is a lot like quicksand.

Materials:
Bowl
Spoon
Cornstarch
Water
Food coloring (optional)

Method:
1) Put 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into bowl.
2) Add 2 tablespoons of water to the bowl, stirring well.  Add additional water until the goo is thick and creamy.
3) Pick up the goo and roll it between your fingers.  What happens?  Stop rolling.  What happens?
Do you know how hard it is to roll this with one hand and take a picture with the other clean hand?

Not rolling it.
Observations:
1) What do you think of this goo?
2) What happens when you roll it into a ball?  Why does this happen?
3) What happens when you stop rolling it?  Why does this happen?

Look Mommy....it's snot.

I'm Messy.


GREEN SLIMY GOO (OOBLECK)

Some resources:
GAK at Steve Spangler Science
Homemade Slime at MadSci
Silly Putty at Science House
Bouncy Polymer Science at Science Buddies (excellent!)

Some Key Facts:
1) A polymer is a long chain of molecules.
2)  Borax is responsible for hooking the glue's molecules together and keeping them from flowing, thus forming a slime like material.
3) If the long molecules slide past each other easily, then the substance acts like a liquid.  If the molecules stick together at a few places along the strand, then the substance behaves like a rubbery solid called an elastomer.
4) Don't eat.  Wash hands before and AFTER.  You don't want to keep borax on your hands, especially if you're going to eat!  Store in a sealed container.
5) This experiment can be done in a variety of ways with different materials.  See resources.

Materials:
wood glue (that's what I used, but you can use elmer's glue)
borax powder (found in powdered laundry section of stores)
green food coloring (or another color if you prefer)
water
spoon
bowls

Method:
1) In a container, mix 1 tablespoon of glue, one tablespoon of water, and 1 drop of food coloring.
2) In another container, dissolve one teaspoon of borax in 1 tablespoon of water.
3) Pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture.  Stir with spoon or mix with fingers.  Slime should form!
4) Store in an airtight container or ziploc. 

Before Mixing

While Mixing
Observations:
1) What happened when we added the borax to the glue?  Why do you think this happened?
2) What happens if you roll the slime into a ball?  Does it bounce?
3)  What happens to the slime if you leave it alone?

Look Mommy....We made boogers.
Have some fun with suspensions and polymers.  Just prepare yourself for a mess.  Take a deep breath and go with it.  Have some fun!  And I hope you'll join me in the next few weeks for some holiday themed posts.  I've got some fun, thrifty, and simple things to share with you.  Plus, I'm always looking for other ideas! 

So have you ever been slimed?  Dealing with slimy noses at the moment?  Cleaning up messes?  Go ahead....make some slime!  Enjoy and have yourself a fabulous weekend! 

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