“Big Kids Need Sensory Stuff Too”
My 8 year old daughter falls into a “sensory seeker” category when it comes to sensory experiences, especially in her desire for tickles, cuddles, and touch. I wrote an article about it last year – Sensory Needs of Regular Kids. She usually enjoys things that are really “hands-on”, but she was complaining to me that she didn’t enjoy a papier-mâché experience in her science Camp Galileo where they needed to dump paper into a sticky mixture and then plaster it over plastic eggs. She was actually quite retrospective about it saying, “We, big kids, need sensory stuff too! I still love running my fingers through rice and flour, and I thought that I will love playing with papier-mache, but it was too sticky”. Then she looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, “We didn’t do oobleck for a while. Can we do it? Pleeease?” While we couldn’t do messy oobleck right that minute, I promised that we will would time, especially since it fit neatly into our current chemistry science theme at home.
What Is a Non-Newtonian Fluid?Oobleck is amazing in its ability to react in an unexpected way to pressure, but it’s not the only non-newtonian fluid out there. Have you ever considered why ketchup is so hard to pour? What is even more mind-boggling that even though anyone can whip up a batch of oobleck in 2 minutes at home, scientists still don’t understand fully how it works.
What Can You Do with Oobleck?
- Whip it up by combining 2 parts of cornstarch and 1 part of water
- Add color – we went with patriotic red and blue, since we did our oobleck on the morning of US Independence Day.
- Discuss why oobleck didn’t become purple, but turned light pink.
- Describe how oobleck feels like.
- Do “magic” by lifting the bowl with oobleck from inside the bowl. This is what Smarty is doing in the picture above, but it’s a bit hard to see that the bowl is not on the table.
- Discuss properties of oobleck – there is no chemical reaction happening while making it. Oobleck is a suspension where particles of starch are suspended in water. Same applies to ketchup where particles of tomatoes are suspended in liquid.
- Make oobleck dance – Smarty actually knew of this experiment, but we knew that our Papa will never agree to that.
- See if a bouncing ball can bounce off oobleck. Apparently, it can if it falls from a relatively high point. We couldn’t make ours bounce though.
- See if you can protect an egg by floating it in oobleck (this is still on our “to do list”.
- See if you can freeze oobleck.
How Do You Clean It Up?Despite the obvious messiness of oobleck, clean up process is relatively painless. We only had a little of oobleck left in a bowl, and I had it thoroughly mixed with water before draining it. Do not put large amounts of oobleck mixture into a drain, it can clog it! I let the rest dry into a very crumbly mixture and then scraped it into a garbage bin. Amazingly, my 8 year old managed to keep her clothes clean.
How do you move from science play to science investigation?
More Chemistry for KidsFrom my blog:
- Investigate an unknown substance
- Investigate an unknown liquid
- Watch molecules attract
- How Temperature Affects Molecular Movement
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