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20 Minute Labs: Giant, Unpoppable Bubbles!

20 Minute Labs bubble logo | Yellow Scope

MAKE GIANT, SUPERHERO BUBBLES!

bubble girl | Yellow ScopeIt's springtime!

The sun is shining and it's starting to warm up again outside. So let's head outdoors for some fun science experiments!

You've probably blown bubbles from a small bottle before. That little wand can make tons of small bubbles that fill the air with dazzling, colorful bubbles.

You've probably also noticed that they pop pretty easily when they fall on the ground or hit a tree.

Well, what if you could make a bubble that didn't pop even when you poked it with something pointy like a pencil? Well, in this month's 20 Minute Lab, we'll use science to do just that!

For extra fun, we'll make small and giant bubbles. The fun can be addictive, so best to do this project outside where you can be a little messier!

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • bubble supplies | Yellow ScopeLarge, wide-mouthed bowl
  • Measuring cup
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dish soap
  • 0.5 cup corn syrup
  • Straw (the wider the better!)
  • Pencil (or anything with a pointy end like a fork or stick)
  • 1 foot or so of wire (can use floral wire or even just a large, plastic twist tie!)

    LET'S GET STARTED!

    1. bubble and straw | Yellow ScopePour the water, dish soap, and corn syrup into the bowl.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Dip one end of your straw into the mixture.
    4. Slowly pull the straw out of the liquid, then blow gently into the clean end to make a bubble.
    5. When the bubble is about 4 inches across, close off the straw by placing your thumb on the opposite end. This prevents air from escaping. The bubble will stay attached to the straw.
    6. With your free hand, take the pencil (or other sharp object) and poke the bubble. What happens?
    7. bubble and pencil | Yellow ScopeNow make a new bubble by repeating steps 3-5.
    8. This time, first dip the pencil into the soapy mixture.
    9. Now poke the bubble with the soapy pencil. What happens this time?

    To Make Giant Bubbles:

    1. Take your wire and make a 'bubble wand' by creating a closed loop. You can twist the ends together and leave a little wire for a handle.
    2. Dip the loop end of the wire into the bowl until the entire loop is submerged.
    3. bubble wand | Yellow ScopeSlowly lift the loop out of the mixture. A soapy film should span the entire loop. If not, try again.
    4. Now swing the loop in the air to make giant bubbles! It may take some practice to make the bubbles!
    5. Dip your pencil in the mixture again.
    6. Try poking your giant bubbles as they float in the air with your dipped pencil end. What happens?
    big bubble and pencil | Yellow Scope


    WHAT'S GOING ON?

    water bubble cartoon | Yellow ScopeWhat happened to your bubbles when you tried to pop them? You likely saw that the dry pencil popped the bubble, but when you first dipped the pencil in the soapy water it did pop the bubble. Why do you think this happened?

    To explain, we have to learn a bit about the makeup of a bubble.

    If you were to use your straw to blow bubbles in a glass of water, you might notice that the bubbles pop very quickly when they reach the surface. This is because bubbles made of just a watery 'skin' aren't stretchy, so they break easily. This happens because of a property of water called surface tension.

    Surface Tension: Tiny water molecules are sticky - they are attracted to each other and want to stick together. This causes them to tug on each other, which creates a strong and flexible film or 'skin' on the waters surface.

    bubble and dog | Yellow ScopeWhat happens when you add soap and corn syrup to the bubble solution? When you add these ingredients, they fill in the spaces between the water molecules, which allows the bubble skin to stretch without breaking. It lowers the surface tension, meaning the bubble won't pop as easily.

    When you poked your bubble with the dry pencil, the water in the bubble's skin stuck to the pencil, breaking into the skin and popping the bubble.

    But when you first dip the pencil in the soapy mixture, this gives the pencil its own 'skin'. This allows the bubble to combine with the pencil coating and wrap around it! You can imagine if the pencil was invisible, you'd see a bubble with a weird shape - round except for one pencil-shaped insert!

    What happens if you try other pointy objects like a fork, a paperclip, or even your own finger to pop the bubbles? Try it and let us know what happens!



    SHARE WITH US!

    Let us know how your experiments turned out! Share your photos and results with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or send us an email to info@yellow-scope.com. We love getting your messages!

    For more exciting experiments, check out our Yellow Scope science kits on the Shop tab of our website!




    Chelsea Schuyler
    Chelsea Schuyler

    Author



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