Take chemistry and physics outdoors for this DIY bubble solution experiment.
Bubbles are a lot of fun and easy to make. Plus, they provide an excellent science lesson.
A bubble is a thin layer of water, soap, and sometimes an added sticky substance around a pocket of air. How is this possible? Surface tension.
Surface tension, or the force holding water molecules together, is the secret behind bubbles. Surface tension is also what allows some insects to walk across the surface of water.
The surface tension of water is too high normally, so you can’t make bubbles without adding something to it, like soap.
You can test this out by making a sticky, soapy bubble solution with these simple ingredients:
About 6 cups of water
About 1 cup of dish soap (use a non-ultra kind for the best results)
About ¼ cup of corn syrup (but you can also use 1 tablespoon of glycerin)
Mix carefully to minimize any bubbles forming. You can use your bubble mix right away or cover and let it sit overnight first.
You can play around with the ingredients to test out different bubble formulas and find the one that works best for you.
Note: this does get pretty sticky, so I’d recommend taking it outside of you can.
To use your bubble mix, start by pouring it into a shallow tray, like the ones you get with your veggies. You can make your own bubble wand with cookie cutters, slotted spoons, or by experimenting with anything else you find around the house.
We experimented with two bubble wands: one made of pipe cleaners and another made of yarn looped through two straws.
Submerge your bubble wand into your bubble mix, pull it out, and blow a bubble.
How does this work?
Soap and something sticky like glycerin or corn syrup are just right for lowering the surface tension allowing the bubbles to form and float away.
More fun bubble facts:
No matter what shape your bubble starts with, it will transform itself into a sphere. This happens because surface tension pulls the water molecules into the shape with the smallest surface area (or amount of the inside of the bubble touching the outside of the bubble), and that is a sphere.
The bubble will pop if it is poked, lands on something that breaks the layer of soapy water, or when the water dissolves.
We discovered that it was a windy day when we got out to the park to test our bubbles, so there was a lot of trial and error and popped bubbles. But we did manage to get a few good bubbles and discovered that our bubble solution worked!
Ready for more cool science? Join the free Trailblazer Club to get activities like the Make a Crystal Experiment – full of fun facts, full instructions on making your own crystals in your kitchen, and a printable observation worksheet.