Messy Science

Scientists in Room 10 have been busy learning and making messes! Check out three of our latest experiments.


During our winter science unit, students have learned all about different states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases. Throughout the unit, students observed the changes caused by mixing and separating different solids and liquids.

In one of our final lessons, students observed the changes after mixing hot water with borax. Borax is naturally in crystal form and dissolves in boiling water. The hot water becomes saturated with borax. When the water cools and the water begins to evaporate, the borax returns to its natural state leaving large crystal shapes.

Students created their initials using pipe cleaners to hang in the solution. After leaving overnight, crystals formed all around the pipe cleaners.


As a class, we read the book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. In this story, an old king wants something new to fall from the sky, so he calls on his royal magicians. They create a green substance called oobleck. The result is a sticky, gooey, gloppy mess that covers the entire kingdom. Thankfully, the king’s pageboy, Bartholomew, saves the day by urging the king to say the simple magic words, “I’m sorry.”

By mixing two ingredients (cornstarch and water), we were also able to make our own oobleck. And, the oobleck mess covered our entire classroom, too!

But, the really cool thing about oobleck is that it is neither a solid nor a liquid. It is actually known as a non-Newtonian fluid. It behaves as either, depending on the pressure you apply to the substance. When you squeeze it in the palm of your hand, it will feel like a solid ball… But, when you open your hand, it will flow over and between your fingers like a liquid.


Finally, while reading the book, Where Do Polar Bears Live?, our class learned that polar bears are from the Arctic where temperatures can reach fifty degrees below zero. Brrr!

How does the polar bear stay warm enough to survive in this freezing weather? The fur of a polar bear will grow to be six inches thick– longer than your hand. Also, the skin beneath the bear’s fur is black. It soaks up the heat from the sun. Under the skin is a thick layer of fat. This blubber acts as an insulator keeping in the heat of the bear’s body and protecting it from the cold.

Using a model, students were able to observe how blubber helps polar bears and other animals stay warm. Students were given two “gloves”, one simply made out of a Ziploc bag and another with shortening inside the bag. Wearing both gloves, students then placed both hands inside ice water. They were surprised to find that the “blubber” kept their hand warm. “I can’t even feel the ice!” Meanwhile, the hand with no other substance shielding away the cold didn’t last too long in the icy water. “It’s freezing!”

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