In my experience, EVERYONE loves blowing bubbles. So learning, while we play doesn’t get any better than with this easy to set up bubble-based STEAM activity.
It’s finally getting warm enough to enjoy some backyard time (wow – do we need it!) – and this activity will encourage creative thinking while exploring engineering, chemistry and surface tension, all while blowing bubbles! Learning, having fun AND getting outside? That sounds pretty perfect right about now.
- For the bubble wands you will need:
- Pipe cleaners
- Bubble solution
- Shallow Pan
- For the bubble solution you will need:
- 1/2 cup of Light Corn Syrup
- 1 cup of Dawn Dish Soap
- 3 cups of water
- Mix your ingredients together in a jar or plastic container and you are ready to use. In our experience, it’s best to let it sit at least 24 hours before using.
Can you blow geometric shape bubbles? Let’s find out!
Use your pipe cleaners to form different shapes from bubbles. You can make your shapes 2D or 3D. Maybe make both to experiment! What do you think will happen?
Ask the bubble-makers if they think the bubbles will all come out the same shape or if they think they will come out different shapes. Most will say that the bubbles will come out in the same shape as the bubble wand – but will they?
Science with young kids is all about asking questions! Encourage exploration, refinement and discovery! Invite your bubble-makers to experiment with their bubble wands and let them explore the bubbles they can produce. They will quickly come to realize that there is only one shape of a bubble.
It’s all due to surface tension. A bubble is formed when air gets trapped inside the bubble solution. The air tries to push its way out of the bubble, but the liquid in the bubble solution wants to have the least amount of surface area, due to the clinging properties of liquid molecules.
Water molecules prefer bonding with other water molecules, which is why water gathers in drops instead of just spreading out. A sphere is the least amount of surface area for the volume of what is contained inside the sphere (in this case, air). So bubbles will always form circles no matter the shape of the bubble wand.
Want to take it further? You CAN create a square bubble – with a little science on your side. Square bubbles are easy to make and serve as a great learning tool to further explore solutions, soap films, and surface tension. You build a bubble maker that’s a cube, dip it into some soap solution, and the film stretches out flat. Using a pipette, blow a bubble and drop it into the center of the square. The bubble you dropped into the cube “magically” transforms from a sphere to a bulging cube. Well, it’s almost a cube. Notice that the bubble in the center bulges slightly on its sides. Bubbles love a spherical shape!
From our home-workspace to yours, in this time when we’re all trying to figure out what to do with ourselves and our families to stay occupied and engaged, we hope you enjoy getting outside for some bubble fun!
Post your experiments on Instagram and tag us (@exploreitallinc) so we can enjoy with you! Stay safe and stay healthy — we hope to see you all again in programs very, very soon.