In this week’s edition of Science Saturdays (which, by the way, will most likely be published on Mondays or Fridays; go figure), the Husband and the littles whipped up a little bit of a polymer that they formed into bouncy balls. NBD.
Unfortunately, I had a great post typed up all about it that magically disappeared. Wah wah.
So, here we go again, even though, as anyone who has ever had a post (or paper or anything else they typed out) disappear on them knows, it will never be as good as the first time.
I pinned this little gem about nine months ago over on Pinterest. This weekend, when everyone was
whining asking for something to do on Saturday, I printed it out. I hadn’t realized that by having children I had also signed up to be the activities director for the S. S. Green.
Bonus: the Husband took it from there. All I had to do was snap some pictures and help wash hands.
The ingredients are things that many of us Pinterest addicts have on hand at this point (even if we never used some of them before that first Pin). You’ll need white/school glue (for an opaque ball) or the blue stuff (for a translucent one), Borax, warm water, corn starch, and food coloring (it says this is optional, but c’mon! how do you make a not colorful bouncy ball?). You’ll also need a couple of disposable plastic cups (for mixing), a couple of craft sticks (for stirring), and some gloves (because creating chemicals reactions can be quite messy).
First, put on the gloves. Trust me. We skipped them and had colorful hands for Mass the next morning.
Mark one cup “Borax” and the other “Ball Mixture.”
Pour two tables spoons of the water and 1/2 teaspoon of Borax into the “Borax” cup and mix until it is dissolved.
Next, pour one tablespoon of glue into the other cup. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the Borax solution you just made and one tablespoon of corn starch. This is when we added the food coloring. I’m not really sure why, but the Husband seemed to think it would work better. DO NOT STIR. Seriously. Don’t do it. Just let it sit there for a while. Our directions said to leave it for 10-15 seconds, but others that we found said 10-15 minutes. Not sure which is right, but the seconds worked for us.
Now, now that you’ve let it sit, and let the polymer (PVA) in the glue, react to the Borax and form a cross-links to itself (this is what makes it bouncy) (at least according to the people who know about this stuff), now STIR! Stir the heck out of it, and keep stirring until you can no longer stir it.
When this happens, scoop it out of the cup and start rolling it around between your hands to form it into a ball. It’ll take a few minutes to really get it set, but once you’re done, you can bounce it and marvel at your creation.
If you’re really adventurous, you can have the kids use the scientific method and propose hypotheses as to which component will make the ball bouncier or stickier or stretchier and then test them by adding more or less of said components. We decided to go in a different direction and get silly.
Give it a try. You’re kids will thank you by telling everyone they meet for the next few days how awesome you are because you helped them make bouncy balls from scratch.