Category Archives: Cool Products

It's Slime Time – Green, Clear, Colored, Glow in the Dark and Creepy Mix-Ins to Spice Up Your Slime Recipe This Halloween

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Halloween is less than 30 days away and we are getting fired up at the Spangler Labs. One of our most popular Halloween science recipes is for slime. We began years ago with Borax and Elmer’s Glue Slime, then added Cool SlimeGreen Slime, Shaker Slime, Glacier GAKClear Slime and Atomic Slime to our free Experiment Library. This year we’ve outdone ourselves and created an entire Slime Factory and incredibly cool color-changing Vampire Slime.

Green Slime

Slime is the perfect sensory activity or Halloween party activity but it is also a lesson in polymers. Many natural and synthetic polymers behave in a similar manner. Polymers are made out of long strands of molecules like spaghetti. If the long molecules slide past each other easily, then the substance acts like a liquid because the molecules flow. If the molecules stick together at a few places along the strand, then the substance behaves like a rubbery solid called an elastomer. Borax is the compound that is responsible for hooking the glue’s molecules together to form the putty-like material.

Glacier GAK Slime with Borax

Glacier GAK is made the traditional, kitchen science, do it yourself formula. Mix glue, Borax, food coloring and water to get a putty-like consistency. For the complete step-by-step directions, visit our Glacier GAK experiment. We added blue food coloring and mixed it with white glue putty for the effect in the picture above. You can mix up any combination of colors to make a rainbow of slime. This type of slime is more putty-like – highly recommended and fun to last an afternoon.There are several different methods for making this putty-like material. Some recipes call for liquid starch instead of Borax soap. Either way, when you make this homemade Silly Putty you are learning about some of the properties of polymers.

Colored Jelly Marbles Mix-Ins for Slime Factory

If you are looking more for the ooey, gooey boogery slime, we suggest you try using the clear Elmer’s Glue with the Borax or a Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) mixture to create the perfect slime. Don’t forget the mix-ins to create your special and unique concoctions like Bug Soup Slime with rubber bugs Fairy Slime with glitter, Lumpy Slime with Water Jelly Marbles or Water Jelly Crystals, or Slime Beads with styrofoam balls. Or go free and clear and make Snot Slime.  AH-CHOO!

Fairy Slime with Glitter

Our brand new Slime Factory – is 128 oz of slime along with all kinds of mix-ins and mixtures.It’s like visiting the frozen yogurt shop but with slime. What would make you happier as a kid than having an entire Slime Factory at your fingertips. The possibilities would have been endless with the limitless imagination of young slime-ologists. This is also perfect for a Halloween or Mad Scientist Birthday Party. Just line the kids up, give them a few pumps and then let them go crazy with the mix-ins.

Vampire Slime is also brand new to our product line this year. Vampire Slime looks green as its mixed up and then turns red in the light. This special mixture was created by Steve Spangler himself and is only available through SteveSpanglerScience.com. You will want to get your hands on this for Halloween.

Don’t forget to take time to learn the science behind slime. Scientists call substances like Vampire Slime non-Newtonian fluids. A non-Newtonian fluid behaves like both a solid and a liquid at the same time. When you apply pressure, it turns into a solid (so to speak) and breaks apart. You are breaking the polymer chains apart. When you let slime flow like a liquid, it stretches with no problem as the polymer chains are allowed to uncoil. And, in addition to all that fun chemistry, you get some amazing light science in the special dyes!

We’ve also created a collection of our favorite slime recipes found on Pinterest. There are some very creative bloggers who have come up with their own slime recipes and creations. A recipe for Rainbow Slime from Tot Treasures is a very popular Pin and we can see why. Visit the site for step-by-step instructions to make this very colorful slime.

Rainbow Slime from Tot Treasures

What is your favorite type of slime? Have you blogged or shared it in some way? We’d love to see what you are doing at Halloween or anytime to create the best slime mixture. Leave us a comment below.

The Ultimate Harry Potter Science Activities for Halloween or Birthday Parties Part 2

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Last Friday, I shared my 7-year-old daughter’s Ultimate Harry Potter party and how we created some unique and creative decorations out of science supplies. This was a birthday party, but it can easily be tweaked for a Halloween Harry Potter party or plain old Mad Scientist party.

For the party, I set up different classes and activities to go along with the lessons and teachers in the series. As the kids arrived, I sorted them into houses, by having each one sit on a stool under our Sorting Hat poster. When they sat on the stool, they reached into a bag and picked a ring with a house crest. Several websites sell Sorting Hats or share ideas on how to make your own. This wasn’t a huge focus in our party, so I went with the printable.

After all of the kids were sorted into Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw houses, they sat down at the tables in the Great Hall, ready for their first lesson.

MAGIC CLASS

The first Hogwarts class was Magic. I set it up so that each class had at least two lessons – one as a demonstration and the other as hands-on. The hands-on lessons had take homes for the kids. I built their goodie bag throughout the party.

For Magic, I began with the Magic Coloring Book. I have had my coloring book for a long time and unfortunately it is no longer available. The book helps the kids magically draw, then color pictures as you flip through the pages.

Next, I did the three-cup Monty using Water Gel. Water Gel is a polymer powder that is similar to what is found in a baby’s diaper. The polymer absorbs water. To do this demonstration, ask for a volunteer. Start with three solid cups. Fill one 1/2 way with water. Ask your volunteer to tell you which cup holds the water. Set the cup with the water down with the two empty cups. Mix up the cups and then ask your volunteer to point out the water cup. When they identify it correctly, pick up the cup and pour the water into the next cup and mix the cups again. Ask your volunteer to find the water. When they again identify the correct cup, pour the water into the 3rd cup and mix up the cups again. This time when your volunteer points at the cup full of water, try to pour the water into the 1st cup again. The water doesn’t pour, and your volunteer and audience will be confused. What happened to the water? The 3rd cup contained a scoop of Water Gel powder in the bottom. When the water was poured into the cup, the powder absorbed the water and became solid.

My final lesson was mixing a liquid and making it siphon itself out of the cup. I used Gravigoo for this activity. Gravigoo is another polymer that when mixed with water will make water appear to flow uphill. I let the kids play with the Water Gel and Gravigoo and take a little home in a bag when we were done.

CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES

For this class, we held a scavenger hunt. At the craft store, I found rubber spiders, bugs, snakes, rats and frogs. The kids were sorted back into their Hogwarts houses for teams and given a type of animal family (frogs, spiders, snakes, etc) to find. The first group back with all of their creepy crawly creatures won a small prize. This was perfect, because it got the kids up and running around before coming back to sit down for our next class.

 

 DIVINATIONS

As Professor Trelawny, this was my favorite subject. For this class, we turned off the lights and glowed in the dark as we tried to see into the future. First, I made my own large Crystal Ball and told my class what I saw. I saw them becoming true wizards and witches after the party. To make this amazing Crystal Ball with dry ice and a little soap, visit SteveSpanglerScience.com for complete instructions.

I then gave each child yet another polymer…a large Jelly Marble. They could look into their crystal ball and tell me the future. The kids took turns sharing what they saw in their crystal ball. This was so fun and gave each child a time to shine. The giant Jelly Marbles are no longer available, unfortunately, but you can get creative by using smaller Jelly Marbles, water balls, touchable Boo Bubbles, clear marbles, Polymer Cubes (for a twist on the round crystal ball), etc.

To wrap it all up, the kids made Future Telling Wands. I gave each child a Baby Soda Bottle Test Tube. I also had the racks that come with the test tubes to keep everything stable while the kids made their wands. The kids had the choice of making a bubbling lava lamp where we filled the test tube 3/4 full with water and then filled the last 1/4 with vegetable oil. Drop a few drops of food coloring (which can stain) or Color Fizzer Tablets (do not stain). I also added a few drops of Pearl Swirl to make the liquid bubble, swish and swirl inside the wand. For complete instructions and other cool ideas for wands and activities using Baby Soda Bottle Test Tubes, visit our experiments website.

CHARMS

For Charms class, we made Firefly test tubes. The night before I hydrated a large bowl of Water Jelly Crystals. The crystals are polymers that grow in water. After they were hydrated, I put the Jelly Crystals in a plastic bag with Glow Powder. The powder coats the crystals a lot like shake and bake. The Glow Powder glows in the dark. During the party, the kids took handfuls of Glow Powder covered Jelly Crystals and filled their wands. When the lights went off, they had firefly wands to light up the night sky or the Forbidden Forest.

POTIONS

Potions was the perfect party ender and prepped the kids for cake and treats. I began by mixing my own Professor Snape potion, the Purple Paradox. This potion starts as a clear liquid and turns purple before your eyes. Wait a few moments and the potion will turn back to clear. This magic potion is perfect to ward off Death Eaters, but is not for drinking.

After following my careful instructions, my students mixed their own potions. We had different colored sodas available, from Sprite to Orange to Sun Drop. Light-colored sodas work the best. Drop in a tablet or two of Instant Flavor Drink Tablets and watch the color change. The flavor changes too! These drink tablets don’t taste fabulous in plain old water, but mix them into soda and POOF! you have your own potion. Now, dare your friends to drink it.

The kids had a blast making up their own potions and trying them out. They bubbled and changed colors before their eyes. No drink was the same.
OTHER IDEAS: 
Here are some additional activities you can incorporate into your Halloween, Harry Potter or Mad Scientist Party:

 

New from Steve Spangler Science:

If you are throwing a Halloween party, classroom party, Harry Potter or Mad Scientist party, you MUST include these amazing new products. Brand new this week. It’s too late for my party, but not for yours. This product line is exclusive and only available only from Steve Spangler Science. Steve Spangler himself worked to create the perfect mixture.

 

Slime Factory
Get ready to line them up and run them through the slime factory. Giant pump filled with slime goo comes with mix-ins like Jelly Crystals, styrofoam beads, plastic bugs, glitter and more. Make your own slime potion and take it home in a shaker cup.

Vampire Slime and Vampire Veins
Green goo that turns red in the light. Spooky, cool and extra awesome. Kids will go crazy for these in potion jars or as an activity.

 

Heat Sensitive Color-Changing Insta-Worms
These worms change color depending on the temperature. Place them in the freezer or ice water or hot water and watch the color go from white to pink or blue.

For more decorating and activity ideas, here is a fun blog post from Alison’s Wonder Scraporium that has some great ideas and printables. I used her Hogwarts Express ticket invitations. So cute and I received a lot of complements.

Activity Village also has a lot of great printables and activity ideas for a Harry Potter party or in the classroom.

Mrs. Happy Homemaker has a fun way to make magic potions using ice cubes and Kool-Aid.

 

Throw the Ultimate Harry Potter Halloween or Birthday Science Party Part 1

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

My daughters, husband and I are all Harry Potter fanatics. Our obsession began last summer when my then 6-year-old and I began reading The Sorcerer’s Stone. After completing the book, we all watched the movie. Then my older daughter and husband were also hooked.

Part 2 from September 28, 2012

For my daughter’s seventh birthday, she wanted a Harry Potter themed party. That’s all she needed to say and I was all over it. My job helped us add some science into the festivities and create the world of Harry Potter in our garage. My suggestions will work for a birthday, Halloween or anytime HP party.

My girls demanded that I dress up as a character, so I went for the Divinations teacher, Sybill Trelawny. I’m not sure I captured her or just looked like a gypsy  librarian.

We began by transforming our garage into Hogwarts. I found wall decorations on Amazon and even a cool Chamber of Secrets-looking doorway poster. To fill in gaps, I used gold and black tablecloths. It was June, but I pulled out my Halloween decorations. We hung candles from the ceiling with thread and pins, blow up skeletons, light up spiders and more. The girls and I had a little too much fun creating potion jars and other decorations for the tables.

Blood Worms: Atomic Insta-Worms & red True Color Tablets in water. These also glow under a black light.
Polyjuice Potion: Water, Water Gel, green True Color Tablets, Pearl Swirl and grass blades.
Gillyweed:  Water, Clear Insta-Worms, blue True Color Tablets.

Skele-Gro: A Growing Body Parts Jar

Potion Test Tubes: Test Tube and Rack, Jumbo Test Tubes, Water Jelly Marbles, Water Jelly Crystals, Atomic Glow Concentrate, Black Lights, Clear SlimeTrue Color TabletsPearl Swirl, Colorful Growing Orbs and plastic spiders and bugs.

I also had several bubbling and boiling graduated cylinders in the background. Fill the cylinder about 3/4 full with warm water. Add a few True Color Tablets for color. Then drop a couple of pieces of dry ice. This also creates a nice bubbling lab sound effect. I also filled a black plastic cauldron with warm water and added dry ice. The kids loved it but I had to keep an eye on them so they wouldn’t touch the dry ice.

This isn’t science, but I also had a lot of fun with the treats and snacks. I had to cover all of the bases, besides, there’s nothing better than cauldron cakes, Honeydukes Fizzers and licorice wands.

I realize this is quite the list of science supplies, but each product comes in a large quantity and I also used them in the lesson demonstrations. In Part 2 of my Ultimate Harry Potter Party, I will list the activities and how I pulled it all off. Watch for the post next Friday, September 28th.

 

The Science Secret Behind Squishy Baff – How to Make Your Own Squishy Bath

By Blog Editor Susan Wells 

If you have kids, you’ve seen the commercials – buy a magic powder, add it to the bath and have a squishy bath. Squishy Baff works when you fill the bath with water, add a special colored powder, and the bath water turns to a soupy, mushy, squishy bath. Then have the kids climb in and have fun.

 

One of our favorite bloggers Sarah, from Moose and Tater, asked us to do a little work and figure out the science behind this product. We took the challenge and started in with our research.

Squishy Baff – the powder that turns your bath into squishy fun is most likely a polymer. Polymers are long chains of molecules. Water absorbing polymers soak up water through osmosis and swell to a larger size.  The polymer chains have an elastic quality, but they can stretch only so far and hold just so much water.

Most common synthetic polymers are said to be hydrophobic (water-fearing), which means that they do not absorb water. Examples of these polymers might include products such as plastic cups, bags, and plastic toys. There are also hydrophilic, or water-loving polymers. Many natural polymers such as cotton fibers are hydrophilic.

Steve Spangler Science sells several different polymers. These hydrogels come in solid form or in powder form. The Squishy Bath product is a powder. We believe it is very similar to our Water Gel powder.

Water Gel is also known as slush powder. It instantly turns a liquid into a solid or at least into a slushy solid. With Squishy Baff, the powder is super saturated with water, so it goes beyond a solid and becomes more of a goo.

The main ingredient in Water Gel is sodium polyacrylate. It absorbs from 800 to 1000 times its weight in water and is actually the secret ingredient that’s used to absorb “liquid” in baby diapers.

To replicate the gooey bath that Squishy Baff creates, we made a small scale version in a plastic tub. We added about 3 scoops of Water Gel and mixed it with about 2 pitchers full of colored water. Food coloring can stain, so we used our Color Fizzers – True Color Tablets to color the water.

Buy Water Gel now to make your own Squishy Baff

We came up with a very similar bath situation. It was squishy, it was gooey and it was a lot of fun. Hands and feet were quickly added to the solution. The kids couldn’t get enough of squishing the goo in their fingers and toes. I’m just glad we did this on a smaller scale…I couldn’t imagine trying to clean up an entire body covered with goo.

But what happens when the fun is over? The Squishy Baff people include a special powder to add to your bath at the end. The powder dissolves the polymer, allowing it to wash down the drain. Our guess was the “special” powder is really sodium chloride, or some type of salt. Salt breaks the bonds in a polymer, breaking it down.

The problem is it takes a LOT of salt to break down the polymer. We added about 1/3 cup of salt to our mixture and while the polymer did break down, there was still some of it left.

Water Gel is non-toxic, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated with care and adult supervision.

Our Spangler Lab Rats, the people behind the scenes at Steve Spangler Science who test all of our products, all winced when I mentioned putting Water Gel or Squishy Baff in the tub with children. For starters, a water-absorbing polymer will absorb water from anything it comes into contact with. If a child accidentally gets some of the powder in their mouth, the polymer will attach itself to all water, including that in the lips, mouth and cheeks. You can’t spit it out, because it absorbs the liquid in saliva. Drinking water will only make it worse and hydrate the powder even more. If you get water absorbing polymer powder in your mouth, your best option is to continually rinse and spit until your mouth is clear.

You also do not want the polymer to wash down the drain. In our experiment, even after adding a lot of salt, there was still a trace of Water Gel left in the water. I was not comfortable washing it down my drain, even if it had completely broken down. A little water absorbing polymer in your pipes can cause problems with clogs. The polymer will take a long time to wash away and will re-hydrate every time water runs down the pipe.

We poured our Water Gel squishy bath out in the garden. The water absorbing polymer helps with water conservation in the garden and will hold moisture in the dirt when it hydrates and slowly dehydrates, like in the experiment we did a few years ago with gardening with hydrogel crystals. You can also put it in a plastic bag and throw it away in the trash.

Whether you try Squishy Baff or our Water Gel experiment, we suggest you do not do it in the tub or sink and instead have the kids play with it in a blow up pool (like in the ad) or plastic tub. We also aren’t sure it’s a good idea to submerge children (or adults) in the hydrogel. The stuff isn’t meant to get into every crevice and just like taking a bath with bubble bath, it could potentially cause some irritation, especially in girls.

We love messy activities at Spangler Science, but cringe as parents when we think of trying to clean up children and tubs full of hydrogel. The stuff sticks everywhere.

 

 

Time Lapse Photography Shows Crystals Forming and Growing on Paper Tree

Carey Brown, father to our Customer Service Manager, Zarah Brown, shared these amazing time lapse photography videos. He was experimenting with his new time lapse photography equipment and used our Magic Growing Crystal Trees as his subjects.

Carey shot the time lapse using a Canon MP-E65mm super macro lens and a Canon 5D2 camera.

Pour the growing liquid into a plastic tray and insert the paper tree. Allow it to soak and after about 15 minutes, crystals will begin forming. The entire process takes about six hours. Once the tree is dry, you can keep it in a safe place to enjoy for weeks.

In the first video, you can see the capillary action as the water moves up the paper, and then crystals begin to grow.

In the second video, you can witness a crystal forming and growing up close and personal. The delicate spider fingers that grow and stretch really demonstrate how the crystals