The weather outside has been absolutely beautiful here the last few days. Trees are blooming with flowers, the sun has been shining brightly, and temperatures sit comfortably in the 70s. Playing outside in the grass, riding tricycles and going for walks are currently parts of our evening routine. It makes me anxious for summer break to come soon!
One of my son’s current obsessions is bubbles. He seems to always want to blow bubbles (and do it himself which means he is a sticky mess by the end). But I love them too. There’s just something about the colorful spheres, floating and bobbing through the air that make you happy! After watching my son one afternoon, I remembered an activity that I had done several years ago that I wanted to bring back and do with my students!
Apparently, middle schoolers absolutely love bubbles too. As soon as they saw bubble wands on my side counter, they were getting excited! “Are we going to get to blow bubbles?” Will we be outside today?” “Can we make bubbles this class period?” etc.
I wanted the kids to not only blow bubbles, but to investigate a little further on what makes a good bubble. In this case, we needed to figure out what types of solutions made the longest lasting bubbles.
Making bubble solution is relatively easy. It takes 3 ingredients: water, dish soap, and gylcerin (which you can find in first aid sections at stores or order online). I recently heard that light corn syrup can also be used in place of glycerin. I had never tried that before, so I decided to this year, and have the students test it for me!
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon dish soap
- ½ tablespoon glycerin (or corn syrup)
Other materials needed:
- Beakers or cups
- Canisters (optional)
- Bubble wands (I had collected a few from empty bubble containers over the years)
Student were placed into groups of two and three, and first decided which bubble solutions that they would like to test and compare. They could either choose to use two different types of soap in their recipes, or compare using glycerin with corn syrup. I had about 4 different dish soaps available that were a variety of brands and
colors (and scents!). If they choose to compare the corn syrup and glycerin bubble solutions, they had to choose one type of soap to use for both mixtures. We emphasized how we only wanted to change ONE variable to make sure we had fair tests!
Next, they followed the recipe to mix up their own bubble solutions, making sure to change that one thing for each recipe. Students put their solution
s into canisters (with lids!) to easily take their solutions outside. If it wasn’t clear which solution was which from the color, students labeled the canisters.
Once outside, a few sample bubbles were blown, just to make sure they could actually blow the bubbles! Then, they started timing. Students blew a bubble, and timed how long it lasted before popping. They did at least three bubbles with each solution, then found the average.
They were having a great time chasing their bubbles around the soccer field!
Once data was collected, they worked in their groups and analyzed their results. During our discussion, we found that the glycerin seemed to work better than the corn syrup. They hypothesized this was because the corn syrup made the bubbles slightly more dense. Students also found that certain soaps did work better than others, but weren’t sure why this might be.
Overall, the bubbles were a success. Students played outside, but were still learning and investigating! I feel like I could take this activity and go even further with doing more tests, graphing more results and having students make their perfect bubble solution!
Feel free to use this idea in your own classroom, or just make your own bubble solution at home with the kids. I do have a worksheet that I made up to go along with the activity, so leave a comment below if you would like it!