Oobleck Slime at Chocolate Storytime

Five minutes before Chocolate Storytime begins, the leader usually goes around giving a final call to the library patrons and to kids and parents outside in the park.  This time, a nice family who was in the park with their little children were invited to come. Surprisingly, the whole family agreed to visit, including 3 adults and several middle school boys.

Once inside, the kids were asked which books they wanted to read.  Knowing that middle schoolers would be anxious to finish up, they were asked to select a book as well.  To everyone’s surprise, they collectively selected “Cuduroy,” authored and illustrated by Don Freeman. They even listened and engaged in a light discussion.

Other books that were read are “Leo Can Swim” by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Ruth Hearson, and “Pretty Salma” authored and illustrated by Niki Daly.

The chocolate treats were donated by Barbara Lindsey, from Inglewood, California, on behalf of the the Sarah Priscilla Sears Kelley Foundation, Moving Forward, Upward and Around.

36129997980_2c1f9841d4_kAfterwards, Artist-in-Residence and physics lover, Alicia, led Chocolate Storytime guests in making oobleck slime and creating different shapes.  She stumbled upon this activity when she was making various types of slime in her home kitchen lab.

Before getting started, here are some things that you should know.  All fluids have a property called viscosity, which is basically the rate (fast or slow) at which a fluid flows. A Newtonian fluid flows at a consistent rate, like water or sweet tea.  It is said to follow Newton’s Law of Viscosity.  A Non-Newtonian fluid flows at a different rate depending how much force or  pressure is applied to them.  It can be a liquid or a solid.

Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid that has properties of both a liquid and a solid.  It flows at a slower rate when pressure is applied to, like a solid.  But when pressure is removed it flows faster, like a liquid.

The name oobleck comes from the Dr. Seuss book, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” In the story, oobleck, a gooey green substance, fell from the sky and wreaked havoc in the kingdom.

Alicia brought ingredients for 4 groups to make oobleck.  Everyone, including the adults, were really excited to make this stuff!  They were getting a kick out of slowly dipping their fingers into the oobleck, and it feeling like a liquid, and then hitting the top of the oobleck, and it feeling like a solid.  It’s all about the force or pressure that you apply to it.

Oobleck ingredients

  • 1 part water
  • 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch
  • Small amount of green food coloring (optional)
  • Couple of drops of mint extract to mask smell (optional)

Mix ingredients

  • Start with the water in a bowl (or wading pool!) and add the cornstarch a bit at a time.
  • Keep stirring until it has a gooey consistency. You may want to use your hands.
  • When the oobleck is just right, slowly add food coloring, if you want. This can be a challenge to get it mixed properly.
  • Play with it. 

Note:  Afterwards, Alicia says that the slime rubs off as a powdery substance, and you can use it for special effects for a play or dance routine.

It got a little messy, but the clean up was very easy; especially because that nice little family who came to visit, helped with everything!  Shout out to that family.

Go to Steve Spangler Science and Imagination Station and Oobleck and Non-Newtonian Fluids:  Crash Course for more information and ideas about oobleck.

Also, click here for the book, “Oobleck, Slime & Dancing Spaghetti:  Twenty Terrific at Home Science Experiments Inspired by Favorite Children’s Books” by Jennifer Williams.

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