Category Archives: Science Experiments

Polymers – Borax Goo

Polymers – Borax Goo

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What You Need:

  • White Glue
  • Borax (In the Laundry Detergent Aisle)
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Ziploc Bag
  • Measuring Cups
  • Spoon
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Food Coloring (Optional)

Measure 1 cup water into an empty bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of Borax to the water and stir until the Borax is dissolved. Now put 1/2 cup white glue in a ziploc bag and add 1 cup water. Seal the bag and squish to mix the glue and water. Now add the water/Borax mixture to the ziploc bag. Reseal the bag and squish it some more. After you mix it for awhile empty the ziploc bag out onto the cookie sheet and mix it with your hands. Borax Goo is like Cornstarch Goo – it’s a non-Newtonian fluid. That means that sometimes it acts like a liquid and sometimes it acts like a solid.

Sir Isaac Newton is famous for figuring out certain rules that apply to things on earth. One of his rules is that matter can take three forms: solid, liquid and gas. Liquids flow and take the shape of the container they are in. The Gak/Flubber/Gluep seems like a liquid because it flows off your fingers and it takes the shape of the container you put it in. But when you squeeze the Gak/Flubber/Gluep…it turns into a solid. So which is it? A liquid or a solid? It’s a non-Newtonian fluid because it doesn’t behave by Sir Isaac Newton’s rules.

Gak/Flubber/Gluep is also a polymer. That means it’s molecules are arranged in a long chain. When the chain of molecules stretches…like the goo flowing off the fingers in this photo, the goo behaves like a liquid and flows. As soon as the Gak/Flubber/Gluep has pressure applied to it – like when you squeeze it in your fist or when you rest your hand on it in the tray, it behaves like a solid and feels stiff and strong.

Usually matter turns into a liquid when it is heated and when liquid is heated it “gets runnier.” How easily a liquid flows is called viscosity. Water has a low viscosity and flows fast. Honey has a high viscosity and flows slowly. If you heat honey or lava…it flows faster. That is one of Sir Isaac’s rules too…that the viscosity of liquids goes up as the liquid is heated. With Gak/Flubber/Gluep, the viscosity is changes when you put pressure on it instead of when you heat it.

Science Project Idea: Get three bowls and measure 1 cup of a powdered substance into each bowl. 1 cup of borax in bowl #1, 1 cup of baking soda in bowl #2 and 1 cup of flour in bowl #3. If you step back and look at the bowls they will all look pretty much the same – a bowl with white powder in it. Now pour 1/2 cup of water into each bowl and mix each bowl with your fingers. Do the mixtures behave the same? How do they behave differently? How would you describe each mixture? A solid or a liquid? You could also try baking soda and powdered sugar and cornstarch.

Here are some websites and books to help you experiment with your own slimy Gak/Flubber/Gluep or whatever you want to call it.

Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes Plastics and Polymers Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects Experimental Chemistry

Words to Know:

Polymers – Molecules arranged in a long chain.
Non-Newtonian Fluid – A fluid that doesn’t flow like you would expect when you put pressure on it.
Liquid – A state of matter. In the liquid state, matter can flow or take the shape of the container it is in.
Viscosity – How resistant to flowing a liquid is. Water has low viscosity and flows fast. Honey has high viscosity and flows slow.

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Atoms – A Bunch of Empty Space

Atoms – A Bunch of Empty Space

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Everything in the universe is made of matter. Matter has mass (that means it is made up of something) and takes up space. Matter is made of atoms. Atoms are teeny, tiny – so tiny you can’t see them.

srpatomthumbSome things are made up of just one kind of atom. These things are called elements. Some examples are oxygen, hydrogen & copper – you can look at a list of all of the known elements on a periodic table.

A single atom has three parts:

  • Electrons – a particle with a negative charge
  • Protons – a particle with a positive charge
  • Neutrons – a particle with no charge

The center of the atom is called the nucleus and the protons and neutrons are located there. The electrons are outside the nucleus. Sometimes two or more atoms come together to make a molecule.  Water is an examply of a molecule. Water is made up of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom.

Websites:

Fact Monster: Atoms

Chem4Kids: Atoms

BrainPop Video: Atoms

Kids Discover: Atoms

What you might not know, is that there is a whole lot of empty space between the parts of an atom. When atoms come together to form molecules the molecules also have a lot of empty space.  Atoms and molecules are made up mostly of empty space. You can prove that this is true:

What You Need:

  • A Glass
  • Warm Tap Water
  • Powdered Sugar

Fill the glass all the way to the top with warm tap water – the water should bulge at the top of the glass but not spill over. (Surface tension makes the water do that!) Now take a teaspoon and slowly add 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar to the water. Doesn’t it seem like 1 teaspoon of water should spill out of the glass when you add 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar? Does it? Add another teaspoon of powdered sugar. How many teaspoons of powdered sugar can you add before the glass of water finally overflows?

The powdered sugar molecules dissolve into the water. The powdered sugar fills in the empty spaces between the water molecules. Even though it doesn’t seem like it…the glass of water is actually full of empty space!

Science Experiment Idea: Get 3 identical glasses. Fill the first glass with ice water (remove the cubes!), the second glass room temperature water and the third glass with hot tap water. Remember to fill the glasses up until the water bulges at the top. Now count how many teaspoons of powdered sugar you can add to each glass before the water start to spill out. Does the temperature of the water effect how much powdered sugar you can add?

Bill Nye Home Demo – Hole-y Water

Atoms and Molecules Energy & Atoms: Nuclear Power Atoms and Molecules Who Invented teh Periodic Table? The Periodic Table

Words to Know:

Atoms – The smallest, most basic unit of matter. An atom is made up of a nucleus surrounded by electrons.
Molecules At least two atoms held together by a chemical bond.
Matter – Has mass and takes up space.
Periodic Table – A table or chart of the chemical elements.
Mass – How much matter fits in a given space.
Dissolve – When a solid comes apart and spreads out into a liquid…like kool aid in water.

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Polymers – Poke Holes in a Ziploc

Polymers – Poke Holes in a Ziploc

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What You Need:

srpziplocpencilssetup

  • Ziploc Bag
  • Water
  • Several Sharpened Pencils

Fill the ziploc bag half full of water. Zip it closed. Hold a pencil in one hand while you use the other hand to poke the pencil all the way through the ziploc bag – have the pencil go in one side and come all the way out the other side. Repeat with more pencils.  Does any water spill out? Do you know why? No water spills out of the holes because ziploc bags are made of a polymer.

srpziplocpencilsPolymers have long chains of molecules that are flexible. When you poke the sharp pencil into the plastic the pencil point slides in between the chain of molecules that make up the polymer. The molecule chains “hug” the pencil, making a seal around the pencil that won’t let the water out. What happens when you pull the pencils out?

Once you figure out how to do this one, try to get someone to stand still while you are holding the bag over their head. srpziplocpencilsdogPoke the pencils through the bag to get them to trust your science…then pull the pencils out and see what happens! We tried it over the dog’s head. She liked it when the pencils got pulled out – a dog drinking fountain!

Websites:

Books:

Science Rocks Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes Plastics and Polymers Plastics and Polymers Science Fair Projects

Words to Know:

Atoms – The smallest, most basic unit of matter. An atom is made up of a nucleus surrounded by electrons.
Molecules At least two atoms held together by a chemical bond.
Polymers – Molecules arranged in a long chain.

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Density – Layer Column

Density – Layer Column

srpdensitysetupFind More Science Experiments

In today’s experiment you will see how materials that have different density behave when they are put in the same jar or glass. Density  is how close together the molecules of a substance are or how much mass a substance has in a given space. If you have one cup of jelly beans and one cup of marshmallows…the jelly beans have more mass…there is more “stuff” compacted into the cup. The marshmallows are mostly air. If you put each of those cups in a microwave to melt…the sugar and water that makes up the jelly beans would almost fill the cup to the top. The sugar and water that makes up the marshmallows would only fill the cup a little bit because marshmallows have less mass, they are mostly made of air. Materials with more density weigh more. A cup of jelly beans weighs more than a cup of marshmallows.

If you pour several materials of varying density in a jar, the materials with more density are heavier and will sink to the bottom. Watch this happen be putting several household materials in a jar. If you use materials that are different colors you will see layers in the jar.srpdensitypour3

You Will Need:

  • Tall Jar or Glass
  1. Honey
  2. Light Corn Syrup w/ red food coloring in it
  3. Blue Dish Soap
  4. Water w/green food coloring in it
  5. Vegetable oil
  6. Rubbing Alcohol

Slowly pour a layer of each substance in the glass jar. Try to be pour carefully so that there are no smudges on the sides of the jar. Pour the substances in order 1-6. Once you are done and have observed the layers, put a lid on the jar and give it a couple shakes. How do the layers look now? Let the jar sit for an hour. Now how do the layers look?

Science Experiment Idea:

Gather five small glass containers – small jars or glasses…baby food jars would be perfect. Carefully fill the first container halfway with honey, the second container halfway with light corn syrup (w/red food coloring in it), the third container halfway with blue dish soap, the fourth container halfway with vegetable oil and the last container halfway with rubbing alcohol. Now fill a small pitcher with water and add green food coloring to it. Use the green water to fill up each jar to the top.

For each substance, guess whether it will be more or less dense than water. Will the water stay on top or will it form a layer below? Materials with more density weigh more. Any substance that has more density than water will remain the bottom layer. Any substance with less density than water will rise to the top.

Websites:

More IndyPL Experiments about Density:

Books:

  • How to Make a Liquid Rainbow
  • Science Experiments That Surprise and DelightLayer Magic” (pages 26-27)
  • Science RocksLiquid Layers
How to Make a Liquid Rainbow Science Experiments That Surprise and Delight Science Rocks How Big How Heavy How Dense
Things That Float and Things That Don't Science Experiments That Fizz and Bubble What Floats What Sinks a Look at Density What Floats in a Moat?
How Do Hot Air Balloons Work? Floating and Sinking Captain Kidd's crew experiments with sinking and floating

Words to Know:

Density – How closely packed together the molecules of a substance are.
Mass – How much matter fits in a given space.
Matter – Stuff
Weight – A measure of the force of gravity on an object. Materials with more density weigh more.
Volume – How much space a substance takes up.
*****The confusing relationship between weight and mass: On earth, a bowling ball can weigh about 10 pounds. If you take that same bowling ball to the moon it will weigh much less because the gravtational pull of the moon is less than the gravitational pull on the earth. Weight is a measure of gravitational pull. So the weight of the bowling ball, or anything else, changes depending on where you weigh it. The mass of the bowling bowl does not change no matter where it is. The bowling ball has the same amount of mass  on earth as it does on the moon or anywhere else you take it.

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Density – Straw Mix

Density – Straw Mix

Super Simple Things to Do with WaterFind More Science Experiments

What You Need:

  • 4 Identical Glasses or Cups
  • 4 Colors of Food Coloring
  • Salt
  • 2 Straws

Fill each glass with water. Put several drops of food coloring in each glass – one color in each. You will have one cup that is red, one that is blue, one that is green and one that is yellow. Now take the straw and put one end of it in the red glass so that one inch of the straw is covered with water. Put your thumb over the other end of the straw and pull the straw out of the water. See how the red water is still in the straw?

Now, with your thumb still covering one end of the straw, submerge the red end of the straw into the blue cup until two inches of the straw is covered with blue water. Slowly lift your thumb and then put it back on the end of the straw again. Draw the straw out. What happens to the blue and red water in the straw?

Now add 1 teaspoon of salt to the red glass, 2 teaspoons of salt to the blue glass, three teaspoons to the green glass and 4 teaspoons to the yellow glass. Repeat the experiment until you have four inches of water in the straw. What happens to the four colors? Did fresh water behave differently than salt water?

When you added salt to the water you increased the density of the water. Density  is how close together the molecules of a substance are or how much mass a substance has in a given space. If you have one cup of jelly beans and one cup of marshmallows…the jelly beans have more mass…there is more “stuff” compacted into the cup. The marshmallows are mostly air. If you put each of those cups in a microwave to melt…the sugar and water that makes up the jelly beans would almost fill the cup to the top. The sugar and water that makes up the marshmallows would only fill the cup a little bit because marshmallows have less mass, they are mostly made of air. A cup of salt water has more density than a cup of plain water. The more salt you add to a cup of water, the more density it has.

Each of the four colors of salt water have different amounts of salt. The colors with more density are heavier and will sink to the bottom when all four colors are mixed together.

Websites:

More IndyPL Experiments about Density:

Books:

How Big How Heavy How Dense Things That Float and Things That Don't That Surprise and Delight
Science Experiments That Fizz and Bubble What Floats What Sinks a Look at Density What Floats in a Moat? How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?
Floating and Sinking Captain Kidd's crew experiments with sinking and floating

 

Words to Know:

Density – How closely packed together the molecules of a substance are.
Mass – How much matter fits in a given space.
Matter – Stuff
Weight – A measure of the force of gravity on an object. Materials with more density weigh more.
Volume – How much space a substance takes up.
*****The confusing relationship between weight and mass: On earth, a bowling ball can weigh about 10 pounds. If you take that same bowling ball to the moon it will weigh much less because the graviational pull of the moon is less than the gravitational pull on the earth. Weight is a measure of gravitational pull. So the weight of the bowling ball, or anything else, changes depending on where you weigh it. The mass of the bowling bowl does not change no matter where it is. The bowling ball has the same amount of mass  on earth as it does on the moon or anywhere else you take it.

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