Red Flags
Soapy water on the floor is very slippery.

Questions to Ask
What do you think is inside a bubble? Why does it float through the air? What colors are the bubbles? What shapes are the bubbles that are touching each other? Where have you seen bubbles before?

Tips for Less Mess
Cover work surface with an absorbent material such as old towels. Keep paper towels and a garbage bag handy. The entire activity may be done outdoors.

Science Connection
What is a bubble? Bubbles are encapsulated gases, such as air. Some materials that could surround a volume of gas might be a soap film, latex like an inflated balloon, or soda pop. In these explorations, a soap film surrounds a volume of air. Have you wondered why soap or detergent helps get the dishes clean? A soap molecule has one end that is attracted to water and one end that is attracted to grease. When you wash a greasy plate with soapy water, the soap molecules attach to the grease with their water-repelling ends, leaving their water-attracting ends in the water. When you rub the plate with a sponge, the water pulls on the water-attracting ends of the soap molecules, which pull on the grease. When the grease is pulled free of the plate, the soap molecules surround it, and can be washed away with water.

To be a chemist and explore bubbles.

What You Need

  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Dishpan or pail

    What to Do
    Slowly mix the ingredients together. Make bubble wands of various shapes and sizes using pipe cleaners, berry baskets, cans (both ends removed), flyswatters, etc. and make bubbles!

    Bubble: A thin spherical film of liquid which encapsulates a volume of gas or air.
    Volume: A measurement of the amount of space occupied by the air inside a bubble. Big bubbles have greater volume than smaller ones.

    Try This
    Find other household items that can be used for bubble blowing. Are the bubbles always the same shape? Try adding corn syrup. What happens? Use varying recipes for bubbles, including commercially prepared solutions. Which do your children prefer?

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