When we think of summer, we think of blowing bubbles! They’re so easy to make and fun to play with, who would guess that there’s a really important science concept at work? Check out this summertime experiment that explores the concept of surface tension. And at the same time, you will learn some tricks to make your bubbles last longer!
Tiny water molecules are sticky – they are attracted to each other. Water molecules on the surface (or top) of a bowl of water are so attracted to each other and to the water molecules below, they tug on each other. This tugging creates a strong and flexible film on the water’s surface called SURFACE TENSION. Soaps and detergents break up the strong interactions between water molecules. This lowers the surface tension of the water and makes it easier for bubbles to form.
Let’s see this science in action! You will test whether adding glycerin or corn syrup to a solution of dishwashing soap makes bubbles last longer. Do you have any guesses? Which substance do you think will make the strongest, longest-lasting bubble?
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
LET’S GET STARTED!
What did you see? How long did your bubbles last? Did glycerin or corn syrup help them to last longer?
On its own, water is not very good at making bubbles because the surface tension is too strong. When soap is added to water, the soap molecules push their way between the water molecules and lower the surface tension. When air is blown into the mixture, a round bubble forms. A bubble is just a “skin” made of soap and water surrounding a pocket of air.
Substances like glycerin and corn syrup help the bubbles to last longer by making them more stable. They also help prevent the water in the bubble from evaporating. Evaporation causes bubbles to burst.
CONTACT US AT THE LAB
For more exciting chemistry experiments, check out our Foundation Chemistry Kit at www.yellow-scope.com.
Camille Carlisle, Yellow Scope Summer Student
& The Yellow Scope Team
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