Math and Science Activities from Jefferson Lab
Oobleck

Background:

The term "Oobleck" is derived from the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck,by Dr. Seuss. Experimenting with Oobleck is much more than having fun with a weird substance. As students participate in this activity, they will develop important skills in scientific observation. Scientists at Jefferson Lab use a similar process to investigate quarks in the nucleus of the atom.

Objectives:

In this activity students will:

- work in groups

- follow a recipe to make Oobleck

- measure the proper amounts of each ingredient

- use all of their senses, except taste, to discover as many properties of Oobleck as they can

- record their observations on the Oobleck Investigation Sheet

- classify each property they find as being a property shared by solids, liquids or gases

- classify Oobleck as either a solid, liquid or gas

Minimum Materials Needed for Each Student Group:

- A Ziploc sandwich bag

- A tablespoon

- A teaspoon

- 30 milliliters (2 tablespoons) of a glue-water solution

- 10 milliliters (2 teaspoons) of a borax-water solution

- 2 drops of food coloring

Optional Materials:

- Newspapers to cover the desks

- Small bowls to hold the two solutions

- Containers to save extra solution

Oobleck materials
Materials for Oobleck

Pre-Activity Preparations:

The Glue-Water Solution

1. Empty a bottle of Elmer's School Glue into a small container.

2. Add an equal volume of water.

3. Mix thoroughly.

The Borax-Water Solution

1. Place 1 liter of water in a small container.

2. Add 60 milliliters of dry Borax powder to the water.

3. Mix thoroughly.

Notes:

- It is not uncommon for some of the Borax to remain undissolved.

- Elmer's Glue-All works just as well as Elmer's School Glue. In addition, we have been able to buy Elmer's Glue-All in gallon containers from home improvement centers.

- If kept in sealed containers, the two mixtures can be stored for several months as long as they are mixed well before use.