Monday, September 26, 2011

Making Silly Putty, or Why I Love Science Experiments with Unschoolers


I must admit it, I have become slightly obsessed with pinterest. If you haven't checked it out, yet, you should!  Craft ideas, homeschooling stuff, recipes, just so much fun.  Anyway, last week, I found this great recipe on there for making your own homemade silly putty.  Perfect, I thought -- we're super keen on anything that's part toy and part science experiment.  We purchased the required ingredients.  It wasn't tough.  It took a trip to Wal-Mart, and we got Elmer's Glue-All (not school glue), which was conveniently still on sale for back-to-school, and a $3 giant bottle of Sta-Flo liquid starch.  Oh, and food coloring if you want to color it, but we already had that. 

First, we poured glue into the bottom of a bowl (one for each kiddo), then we added the food coloring until it was their desired color -- red for Angus, pink for Wednesday, yellow for Zhara.  We stirred and stirred until the color was completely integrated.
Then we added the liquid starch, and stirred.  It immediately starts to goo up, as it soaks into the glue. 
It takes about 5 minutes to completely soak in.

There was lots of stirring.

 And some poking.

And, of course, plenty of squishing and dripping.  
It is science, afterall, we need to fully understand our results.

 After it's mixed for about 5 minutes, then the real fun begins.  You take it out, dry it on a paper towel a bit, and knead it until it turns into Silly Putty.

Look, we made Silly Putty!

After that, all bets were off, and we experimented wildly.  This is why I love unschooling.  One "experiment" always turns into about 40, as they ask more and more questions.  In fact, as I type this, they are still at it.

What would happen if we ran it through the pasta maker that grandma got us for Play Doh?

Answer: It thins out and then immediately rebounds into shape, unless you put it on the very thin setting, which shreds it into bits.

How does it feel on your feet?  Cold and squishy.


 Can you build things with it?  Answer: Yes, here Angus demonstrates making Patrick Star out of Silly Putty

 Will it really pick up news print? Answer: Why, yes, quite well.


What happens if we make white Silly Putty?  Will it pick up the news print even better?  
Answer: Why, yes, yes it does

 And the most popular and long lasting one thus far. How far will it stretch? 
Answer: a really really long way.

They are still experimenting... I'll let you know when they're done.  It may be awhile. :)

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