Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Science: Bubbles Exploration and the Scientific Process

Lately, Nina has been fascinated with just how many ways she can explore bubbles.
One recent morning, we had the pleasure of watching a friend's daughter.  It was a hot morning -- one when it was actually cooler outside in the shade than in our non air-conditioned house -- so I decided that some outdoor play and learning were in order.  Thus, unfolded:

Bubble Exploration and the Scientific Process
An easy summer activity that requires inexpensive ingredients you may already have at home.
(Apologies, in advance, for the poor photo quality.  Our family point-and-shoot has broken, so I have been using my daughter's "play camera".)

Measuring out ingredients.
  • a place to display recipes (We used a plastic chalkboard easel.)
  • a tray
  • two bowls
  • water (We put ours in a pitcher for easy pouring)
  • dishwashing detergent (We used Joy.)
  • light corn syrup (You can also use glycerin.)
  • bubble wands, straws, etc.
  • optional empty bubble containers and wands from all-used-up store-bought mixes
  • a table and chairs, if you wish
The Recipes We Tested
  1. Write out and post two homemade bubble recipes and gather supplies for making them.
  2. Chat about what you know about bubbles and what you would like to know.  Together, decide on a question you'll focus on.  (In our case, it was which bubble solutions would make the best bubbles.)
  3. Do some background research.  This can be as easy as having young children discuss things with an expert or someone who knows a little more (which is what we did), or it can involve books, the internet and other research.  The idea is to ignite thinking.
  4. Construct a hypothesis, together or individually by making an edcated guessa tthe answer to a question.  (In our case, Nina, Jack and our friend hypothesized that the second bubble recipe would make the best bubbles and Luke and I hypothesized that the first would.  We noted our hypothesis by putting our first initial next the the recipe on our chalkboard.)
  5. Make the bubble mixes and test your hypothesis, taking extra care to measure and stir well and to be observant of everything that happens.  (In our case, this involved taking turns to slowly measure and mix all of our recipe ingredients and, then, testing the two solutions we created out by blowing bubbles and carefully observing the results.)
  6. Analyze your data and draw conclusions informally through observation and discussion or, more formally, with written notes.  (We opted for the former, although we did jot a few observations down on our chalkboard.  The kids results were that the recipe with less water made better big bubbles and the one with more water made better smaller bubbles.)
  7. Share your results.  (We did this through sharing what we did, how we did and what we discovered with our friend's mom and with Daddy.  )
  8. Enjoy!  Be sure to leave room for lots of exploration and discoveries.  Bubbles are all about science AND fun, after all! (We ended up blowing bubbles with traditional bubble wands, ball and other found materials and straws.  We blew them "normally", onto plates, into our hands, etc.  We wet our fingers and small toys with bubble mix and passed these through bubbles without breaking the bubbles.  We made bubble bowls and snakes... And so much more!)
  9. Make new hypothesis if you wish.  (We have begun discussions about what recipe tweaks may work well for next time.
After Luke tried to make bubbles by dunking a ball in bubble mix and hitting it with a bat, Nina began experimenting with blowing bubbles through the ball with a straw.

  • Scientific Process (asking questions, research/discussion, constructing hypothesis, testing hypothesis/observation, drawing conclusions, sharing conclusions)
  • Science (discussion of properties -- solids, liquids, etc.)
  • Reading (simple Decoding when reading the recipe)
  • Practical Life (measuring, following directions)
  • Sensory (oral-motor, tactile, visual)
  • Math (measuring, counting)
  • Creativity (free exploration of bubbles after hypothesis has been tested, what types of things can we make bubbles with, what can we do with bubbles)

Quick Tips/Extensions
Jack was so proud to make hold bubbles with his hands.
  • Reinforce the "scientific process" concept by using lots of language about "being scientists" and what strong scientisits do.  Keeping things fun, and without overdoing it, pepper the experiment and exploration with articulated science words and concepts.
  • Experiment with different bubble recipes.
  • If you have children who are learning to count still, add a lot of counting in.  How long does it take before a big bubble bursts?  How many bubbles can you pop? Etc.
  • Focus on language skills and concepts by talking about things such as opposites (big/small, wet/dry, etc.), comparisons (more/most, big/bigger/biggest, etc.), etc.
  • Add further literacy and extensions by exploring any of the books shared in our 2010 post Book Nook:  Bubbles!  Bubbles!
  • Extend with bubble-related sensory activities like those shared at 7 Sense-ational Ways to Use Bubbles.

What are your favorite bubble recipes and activities?  And what simple summer science activities have you been enjoying?  


Crystal Mcclean said...

It sounds like a great day of learning fun for kids and parents alike! Comparing recipes is something they will remember and reproduce later, I'm sure!

Andrea @ No Doubt Learning said...

I really love the fact that you used the scientific method with your kids! I try hard to do that with my own kids when we're doing science. I shared your post on my Facebook page! :)

Stephanie @ Discovery Moments said...

Looks like fun! I am stopping over from Discovery Moments with information on my wooden trays! I bought all my wooden ones from Kid Advance. I think that they were about $9. Hope that helps! Happy Schooling!


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