Gross Science with SLIME

As my loyal followers may have noticed, I LOVE playing with polymers! There are so many ways to have fun with them. And October – with Halloween right around the corner – is the perfect time of year to play with slimes and goos! I wanted our SEC scientists to compare and contrast a couple of different slimes…and I even had a surprise ingredient for one of the slime recipes!

At the start of the program, I briefly talk about polymers with our assembled crew…and then we dove straight into our slime recipes.  Polymers can be found just about everywhere – in places you might not even have realized. They are in natural products like wool and silk (among many others), and then also in many man-made synthetic materials like nylon and rubber. Even the double-helix strand of DNA is a form of a polymer known as a “biopolymer.” But what exactly is a polymer?

The word polymer means “many parts.” The individual parts that actually combine to form a polymer chain are called monomers. Sometimes a substance can actually help polymer chains link together and form a more solid substance. In the case of our slime recipes, there is a “cross-linker solution” – sometimes borax, sometimes liquid starch, and sometimes (as I just learned) eye contact solution!

EXPERIMENT #1: Steve Spangler’s nifty Green Shaker Slime

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Materials:

I had previously purchased some slime supplies from one of my favorite science sources – Steve Spangler Science – and it provided us with a quick way to do a classic slime. And Steve Spangler has made the process even easier by creating slime shaker cups with measuring marks on the side of the cups. I distributed pre-measured amounts of the green slime to our SEC scientists in the shaker cups. I then distributed pre-measured amounts of the cross-linker solution in separate 2 oz. cups. [Measurements were provided with the materials.]  Then I asked the scientists to just add the clear cross-linker to the green slime liquid solution, pop the lids on the shaker cups and, well, SHAKE.  In very short order, we had some lovely classic slime for everyone to poke and stretch.

 

EXPERIMENT #2: Fluffy Slime

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For our fluffy slime, I used a recipe direct from YouTube sensation Karina Garcia’s new book, “DIY Slime” (2017).

Materials:

  • White, washable school glue (Elmer’s or other) – 1/2 cup
  • Men’s shaving cream (Barbasol brand or other) – 1 1/2 cup
  • Eye contact solution (any brand) – up to 8 teaspoons (or app. 3 tablespoons)
  • SECRET INGREDIENT:  Steve Spangler’s glow powder
  • OPTIONAL:  food coloring, sparkles, etc.
  • Gallon-sized plastic bags to take slime home
  • Foil pie plates, spoons, measuring cups, and LOTS of hand wipes

Every young scientist loves a good slime recipe. I’ve always done the standard borax/glue slime recipe in previous programs, so I was excited to see examples recently of a nifty “fluffy” slime recipe that uses shaving cream and eye contact solution (in place of borax). Karina Garcia has made quite a name for herself on YouTube with her slime recipes, so I decided to test out her fluffy slime recipe with our crew. It’s a slightly finicky recipe because you meed the patience to slowly add materials and recognize when enough is enough as the slime comes together. But with some effort most of us got to a fully-realized fluffy slime blob.

There’s definitely an order to how you combine the ingredients for any slime recipe. [I pre-measured some ingredients to help us along the way].

STEP 1. I passed out pre-measured amounts of white glue to each scientists and asked them to pour that into their foil pie plates. I chose pie plates because they are cheap AND because standard bowls don’t have nearly enough space for mixing our “fluffy” ingredients.

STEP 2. OPTIONAL.  I passed around some of my secret ingredient – the glow powder – to mix into the glue. I didn’t have a chance to test this before the program, but I hoped that it would also make our fluffy slime glow in the dark! At this stage, you can also mix in food coloring, or glitter, if you want.

STEP 3. Time to measure and add the shaving cream. This can be difficult, and I think this is the stage where things might have gone off-track for a few of our scientists. Shaving cream can be pretty fluffy which makes accurate measuring difficult. In the future, I would advise everyone to pat down the shaving cream with a spoon and level off the measuring cups.

FINAL STEP. This is where we add our “cross-linker” solution, in this case, our eye contract solution (who knew!). Karina suggest measuring out 8 teaspoons of solution, but you may not need nearly that much. You need to add a little, stir, and then add more. Eventually, you’ll feel the slime start to solidify and come together. At that point, you can start working it with your hands and adding a little extra eye contact solution until the slime is no longer sticky and comes cleanly away from your hands. Again, this was the trickiest part of the process for everyone (myself included when I did my test run). When things didn’t come together, I kept adding extra eye contact solution…when what I really needed to do was add additional shaving cream. So there’s a little bit of back-and-forth that happens with the shaving cream and contact solution until you get just the right balance. But we managed to get most scientists to the right point before the end of the program. Everyone left happily with two slime samples in baggies plus slime samples all of their clothes and hair 🙂  And best of all, the glow powder did its job and helped us create glow-in-the-dark slime!

One final note about CLEAN-UP for any goo/slime experiment: It is NEVER a good idea to allow slime/goo to go down sink drains. It should always be thrown in the trash when you’re ready to get rid of it.