During our 4th SEAL unit in 2nd grade, we’ve turned into a community of chemists conducting a study about the structures and properties of matter. We’ve learned that matter can fall into 3 different states: solids, liquids, and gas. You’re probably familiar with these states, because we interact with them every day. In fact, we ARE these states of matter! Science… so amazing!
As we dove deeper into our unit, our students were starting to make connections to their everyday lives. (Yes!) One cold, frosty morning, one of our students pondered, “I think the frost on the playground is between a solid and a liquid.” “What?!” I and other students wondered. Can there be such a thing? Well, this pondering called for one thing: A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT! And it was perfect timing for our science fair coming up! Oh the excitement!
So after doing some more researching and gathering some materials, we were set to explore the properties of a very interesting matter. We were about to embark on a experiment to make and study slime (a non-Newtonian fluid), but the students didn’t know it yet. Hee-hee…
Our question: Can matter be a solid, liquid, or both? We set off with our safety glasses on and our measuring cups ready. Here’s what we did so you can try it at home, too.
What did we think was going to happened?! Well, our students hypothesized that it was going to bubble up, or even explode! (As if I would bring something in that was going to explode in the classroom… muah-ha-ha-ha, but much too messy!)
Materials: glue, water, sodium tetraborate (a natural mineral, as known as Borax), safety glasses, 2 bowls, 2 stirring sticks, tablespoon, measuring cup, and zipping plastic bag.
Our procedure: We poured one small bottle of glue (118 mL) into a bowl. We added 125 mL of water and stirred it up. Then in another bowl, we combined 125 mL of water to 15 mL (1 tablespoon) of sodium tetraborate. We stirred that up, too. Then we poured the glue mixture and 50 mL of the sodium tetraborate mixture into a zipping plastic bag. We squished it up and let it sit for several minutes.
Oh, what fun it was to see the students discover that they made slime! Through handling and exploring our slime, we realized that it had properties of liquid and solid. It dripped and spread like a liquid, yet when we applied pressure, it acted like a solid, bouncing and even ripping. So cool! This is what we learned is called a non-Newtonian fluid. As it turns out, not all matter can easily fit into one of the three states of matter. We had a blast!