Oobleck: Liquid or Solid?

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This experiment certainly isn’t a new one…in fact, you might have already done this with your kids!  It is a great sensory experience for little kids and a way to talk about matter (liquids, solids, and gases) with older kids!

The science info (at the bottom of the post) came from Kitchen Pantry Scientist and Steve Spangler Science!

Here’s what you’ll need:  cornstarch, water, and a large bowl.  Optional:  food coloring.

 

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 1.  Mix 1 cup of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of water.  It should be the consistency of syrup.  Add food coloring if you choose.  I opted to leave this out to make the clean-up a little easier (and preserve the boys’ clothing).

 

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 2.  Encourage your child to put his/her hands in the bowl and begin playing.  Big Brother was excited, at first…

 

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 …the texture took some getting used to.  After a few minutes, he really enjoyed it.

 

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 If you’ve never had any experience with Cornstarch Goo (or what I call Oobleck from Dr. Seuss’ book Bartholomew and the Oobleck), it is really strange.  If you move slowly or hold it still, it behaves like a liquid.  But if you quickly agitate it or attempt to roll it up, it behaves like a solid!

 

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The Science Behind It:

Cornstarch is made up of long chains of atoms.  When you move them slowly past one another, they flow like a liquid because they can slide easily past each other.  When you squeeze, roll, or agitate them, the “atom chains” will get entangled and form a solid!  Substances like oobleck are referred to as “non-Newtonian fluids” because they do not have the normal properties of either solids or liquids.

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I love this experiment, and it’s fun to read Dr. Seuss’ book along with it :) We did this same thing with our homeschooling group this year!

  2. samantha says

    Did this with food coloring and a combination of baking soda and corn starch and playing with it in the drive way and made a big fun mess and then when it dried we sprayed it with vinegar and watched it fizz

  3. Debi says

    what timing. We just read Bartholomew and the Ooblek last night. Now we can have fun making ooblek today. Can’t wait to try this.

  4. Sarah says

    I just tried this today. My almost 2 year old LOVED it. She played with it for over 45 minutes! I had fun with it too. And clean-up was pretty easy too.

  5. Kristin says

    Thanks for this idea. I just requested the book through the library. I can’t wait to read it and then try this experiment.

  6. Jennifer Eagles says

    My daughter LOVES science and she is only in kindergarten – I can’t wait to do some fun experiments with her over the March Break!! :) Thank yo so much!

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