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Why Oobleck?

It’s easy and fun, and it encourages discussion of important aspects of science.

Making Oobleck

  • Pour some water in a container.
  • Stir in food coloring (Green is customary.)
  • Slowly mix in corn starch until it hardens when you squeeze it, yet becomes liquid-y when you release the pressure.

Keeping things clean.

Science projects can get messy, luckily...

... the green gooey mess dries quickly, and the dust is easy to clean with a broom or mop.

It is better to use it with uncarpeted floors, and you will want to spread newspaper over the tables to minimize the mess.

Teaching the Lessons

Groups of 3-4 work well.

You will need to let the kids explore the the gooey substance before trying to do any science. After around five minutes, the kids should be able to focus on any tasks you might assign them.

Have one of the kids in each group be the recorder. This child will need to wash their hands. Give them a marker and large sheet of paper. All of the kids in the group can then work together to record any “Properties of Oobleck” they discover.

Let them make their observations for about 20 minutes.

Then have them clean up, and when they are done, each group should choose one observation that they find the most interesting. They should circle that observation.

The next day, you can have a discussion. The whole class is now working together to determine the substance's properties.

Each group will have a chance to present their circled observation. Then the class will vote whether or not this is a true "Property of Oobleck."

As the discussion leader, you will work to help the class refine their observations.

For instance, one group may observe that:

“When a drop lands on newspaper, it turns into a powder.”

After discussion (and further experimentation and observation) the class might approve this:

“When a drop lands on newspaper, the table, or the floor, over time, it becomes a pale-green powder. This happens quicker with smaller drops or when the substance is placed on newspaper. We believe that it may be drying out as it loses water either to the air or the newspaper, but we have not yet been able to confirm this belief.”

To end the unit, you may want to read-aloud Dr. Seuss's Caldecott-Honored-book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Return to 5th Grade Science Projects


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