In this teacher-approved lesson, students will make and play with oobleck (corn starch and water), then write about their experiments. Young scientists will have a blast seeing their oobleck mixtures seemingly come to life.
Students will be able to take part in mixing and creating a non-Newtonian substance (oobleck).
Introduction (15 minutes)
- Tell your students that today they're going to learn about a liquid, that, at times, acts like a solid due to stress or pressure placed on the mixture. This is called a non-Newtonian substance.
- Activate prior knowledge by asking questions along the lines of "Who can tell me the difference between a liquid (like water) and a solid (perhaps like cornstarch)?" or "Does anyone have a prior experience with oobleck?"
- Read aloud Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)
- For the remainder of the lesson, follow the instructions on the Oobleck Information - Explaining the Experiment sheet.
- Pass around a small cup or container with corn starch in it. Encourage students to touch the corn starch so they can feel the texture and movement of the powder.
- Combine approximately 1 cup of water and 1 cup of corn starch together in the plastic container, stirring it together with the wooden spoon or stir stick until the water becomes very difficult to stir (some say it feels syrupy in texture).
- This 1-1 combination should create a fairly movable liquid. Demonstrate this for students by pouring oobleck from container to container.
- Now that students have seen the liquidity of the substance, invite one of them to poke or punch the substance quickly. (If time allows, give each student a 30 second turn to get their hands on the odd substance).
- At this point you might want to add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch to the mix in order to make it thicker before continuing with experiments (if you've chosen to include any of the other possibilities).
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (15 minutes)
- If you have chosen to utilize the microwave and ice bath, split the Oobleck into thirds.
- Place 1/3 into a container and place it in the ice bath.
- Now place another 1/3 into a separate container and place it into the microwave on half power for around 45 seconds.
- Take the ooblek out of the microwave and observe any changes by sight and feel.
- Take the final 1/3 and pour it onto the plastic wrapped head(bowl) of the speaker and turn on the song or tone you've chosen. Note: Songs with higher bass work well.
- Drip different colors of food dye on the mixture and watch it move through the layers.
- Take the ooblek from the ice bath and observe any changes through sight and feel.
Independent Working Time (5 minutes)
- Pass out the writing sheets.
- Read the instructions to the class and answer any questions they may have.
- Enrichment: Advanced students may be allowed to work in small groups to perform the experiments.
- Support: Struggling students may be given one-on-one time assistance.
Related Books and/or Media
- VIDEO: Messing with Non-Newtonian Fluids (Cornstarch & Water) and a Subwoofer by damage.cc
- VIDEO: Bartholomew and the Oobleck Read-Aloud by OracleAnne
- VIDEO: Staying on Top of Oobleck at Duke by zmbkkabala
Assessment (45 minutes)
- Have students follow instructions, complete the papers, and turn them in for assessment when finished.
- Students may observe the experiment outcomes as needed.
Review and Closing (5 minutes)
- Review and close by asking students review questions about the experiments you performed with the oobleck. Questions may include how it is made, what happens when heated, or what the definition of non-Newtonian is.