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Awesome Activities: Bubble Science!

by Laura Kane, Education Manager

bubble-science

One of our favorite experiments to do with students involves lots of bubbles! We create different solutions, experiment with textures, and even create shapes with wires to see what designs we can get. Our most popular version uses a “super solution” to create bubbles you can actually hold and bounce without them popping.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

(Please note: bubbles do not like dirt, so everything needs to be very clean).

  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoon
  • A jar with a lid
  • Distilled water
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Glycerin
  • Clean cotton gloves
  • A bubble wand (we make ours out of pipettes with the ends cut off)

MAKE YOUR BUBBLES

1. Measure 1 cup of distilled water with 2 tablespoons of dish soap in the jar. Avoid creating bubbles.

2. Slowly add 1 tablespoon of glycerin to this mixture (again, avoid bubbles).

3. For best results, we like to leave our bubble solution out for 24-48hrs.

4. Grab a bubble wand and blow a few bubbles. Try to catch them. What happens? It pops!

5. Put on a clean cotton glove on one of your hands. Now blow a bubble and try to catch it. What happens now? It bounces and you can hold it! But why?

BUBBLE SCIENCE OBSERVATIONS

Bubbles don’t like dirty things. They pop on your hands because of the oil and dirt on them. Because you have clean gloves on, the bubbles are touching a surface free of dirt and oil particles that cause the soap film to break! So the surface area of the bubble is able to stay stable and avoids collapsing so quickly.

There are A LOT of different bubble recipes out there and you can spend weeks on the science of bubbles including mixing, measuring, solutions, physics, light science, and even geometry! This is the base solution I like to build off of. Along with testing out different amounts of each substance, here are just a few of the great questions our students have experimented with:

  • Why do we use glycerin? Can another substance work?
  • Will another type of dish soap work?
  • How do you make really, REALLY big bubbles?
  • Does the type of wand you use make a difference?
  • What happens if you heat or freeze the solution?
  • Are there other kinds of gloves that will work?
  • What happens if we use regular water? Or juice?

Have fun experimenting and let us know what you’re doing in your classroom! If you have a question or an experiment you’d like to see us do, send me an email at laura.kane@scmuseum.org.

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