Science Storytime: Bubbles

Bubble experimentFor the first Science Storytime of this school year, we focused on the wonder of bubbles. Before the program I read over the notes from the ALSC blog on a similar bubble program.  I had intended to use the same book that she used in her program, the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out book Pop! (I love that series, especially the Level 1 books!) but foolishly forgot to put it on hold, so it wasn’t available the day of the program. Instead, we read a picture book that featured bubbles in it.

We talked for a bit about bubbles. The group was very young, mostly older twos and younger threes, and this was the first meeting, so they were a little shy during this aspect of the program, though they all seemed excited by the thought of bubbles.

To demonstrate why bubbles are always round, no matter what the shape of your bubble blower, I had everyone stand up and hold hands. I said we were the bubble molecules, and that we wanted to cling together while also making the biggest shape we could. We then tried to get as big as possible. Inevitably, we ended up in a circle. We did that a couple of times so that the kids could see that it would always be a circle. I then talked about bubbles and how they are always a sphere/ball for the same reason. I had intended to talk about surface tension and volume as well, but my very young audience wasn’t in the mood, so I jettisoned that in favor of moving outside for the bubble blowing.

I bent pipe cleaners into several different shapes so that we could use them as bubble blowers and observe first hand that the shape of the blower did not influence the shape of the bubble. They all created round bubbles. One child did make the observation that what did influence the bubbles was the size of the opening. Larger openings, whether triangles or circles, created larger bubbles.

BubblesTo add a fun experimental aspect, I had set up four different bubble solutions. One was plain dish soap/water, one had glycerin added to it, one had corn syrup added to it, and the fourth was commercial bubble solution. The dish soap I was using was blue, so I added water colors to the commercial solution to make it a matching blue as well. I did not want to the children to attribute any differences in the solution’s effectiveness to color rather than an actual difference in materials. I handed out papers that they could use to record their observations, but let them know that it was an optional part of the activity. I was worried that very young children might be turned off by having to right down every bubble interaction. In the end, no one used my chart to record the bubbles. I don’t think it would have mattered much even if they had, because the bubble solutions all seemed to work more or less the same. The regular bubble solution was the easiest to use in one blow, and the glycerin bubbles seemed to last a hair bit longer, but otherwise I did not see a difference. Perhaps I should have purposefully made one a dud, as a comparison? In any case, the children and their parents seemed to have a great deal of fun blowing, chasing, and popping bubbles.

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