Slime Wars

One of the most searched terms in 2017 was how to make slime. Let’s run through the versions of slime, suitable from early learning to high school, and how it might fit the Australian science curriculum (we don’t just do things for fun, we do things to learn!)

 

SCIENCE INQUIRY

Making slime can be applied to building science inquiry skills at almost any level. From Foundation level in making observations with the senses (how does it feel, how does it smell, how does it look?), to Year 5 and beyond in changing variables and recording data (e.g. changing the proportions and seeing the impact on the texture of the slime).

SCIENCE UNDERSTANDING

Foundation – slime can be used as an example material that has observable properties (slimy, viscous, jelly-like, cool, runny, squishy).

Year 1 and 2 – everyday materials, like water, glue, psyllium husks, can be turned into slime, which has a different set of properties to the original ingredients, through the process of mixing or cooking. This is for the purpose of creating a gooey substance to play with – this fits in with the chemical sciences strand.

Year 4 and 5 – the chemical sciences strand again addresses observable properties and how this determines use. Slime can be made and its unique properties observed, in order to work out its use and application.

Year 6 and 8- irreversible reactions and changes to materials can be investigated through the conversion (cooking or mixing to make a chemical reaction) of the raw ingredients to the resulting slime. The chemical changes involved can be explored at year 8 level.

Year 9 – the oobleck recipe below can be used to demonstrate Non-Newtonian fluids, and how this relates to liquefaction and plate movement in the Earth and Space Sciences strand.

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SLIME RECIPES

1. FIBRE SLIME

The simplest, most non-toxic and safe recipe for slime involves 2 ingredients from the supermarket and a microwave. Recommended for Foundation/Early Learning and above.

1 tablespoon of psyllium husk powder (the finer the better)

1 cup of cold water

optional drop of food colouring

Put in a big bowl, stir and microwave for 2 minutes. It will be hot when it comes out, so allow it to cool or pop it in the fridge before playing with it.

 

The finer the husk, the smoother the slime. Blitz the husk in a blender or food processor before if you wish.

You can investigate different ratios of psyllium husk to water, or different cooking times, to see the effect of these variables on the texture of the slime.

2. PVA CROSS-LINKED POLYMER SLIME

The “traditional” science laboratory slime, this has good chemistry behind it (relating to polymers and bonding) but the borax and PVA glue you may want to leave to the older (upper primary or middle school) students.

PVA glue

borax solution

food colouring

Add 2 parts PVA glue to a plastic cup or bowl.

Add 2 part borax solution and food colouring and stir with a paddle pop stick.

Keep stirring until it clumps together and you have slime.

Go here for a simple explanation of the chemistry behind this slime.

3. PUFFY SLIME

All the glittery internet rage at the moment! It contains glue, but is less”chemically” than the polymer slime above. Suitable for mid-upper primary and beyond.

PVA glue

contact lens solution with boric acid

shaving cream

food colouring

bicarb soda

Add one cup of PVA glue to a large bowl. Add about 2-3 cups of shaving cream. Mix it up with a plastic spoon and add food colouring, glitter, sequins or other as desired. Add the contact lens solution, one tablespoon, and a teaspoon of bicarb. Mix it up and play!

4. POLYMER WORMS

Great for an open day activity or quick group demonstration, this, like the PVA slime, relies on cross-linking polymers for the change from liquid to jelly-like slime. Suitable for any age, with adult supervision and appropriate hand washing after.

sodium alginate solution, coloured with food dye, in dropper bottles

calcium chloride solution in a big plastic bowl

Squeeze drops or lines (“worms”) or sodium alginate into the calcium chloride solution and watch as the jelly-like worms form. Pull them out with your hands and play with them, then wash your hands after!

Go here for instructions on how to make up the solutions, for your laboratory technician.

5. OOBLECK

Another type of “slime”, this mixture behaves as a droopy gooey liquid at times, and as a solid blob when more force is applied to it. It will ooze through your fingers, or you can roll it into a ball. When you stop rolling, it will melt back into a puddle. Totally messy, would recommend for older students just because of the mess!

1 cup of water

2 cups of cornstarch

optional food colouring

Add water and food colouring to a large bowl.

Add the cornstarch slowly, mixing as you go. You will need somewhere between 1 1/2 cups and 2 cups of cornstarch to get a gooey consistency. Use your hands and get messy!

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