How to Catch a Ghost – Ghostly Dry Ice Boo Bubbles

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Do you have amateur ghost hunters running amuck in your house? Or are you looking for a fun activity to do during a Halloween or classroom party?

Look no further than our Boo Bubbles experiment. Boo Bubbles are fog-filled touchable, bouncing bubbles. The bubbles actually trap vapor from a mixture of dry ice and warm water to make it look like ghosts are swimming inside. Look quickly – even though these bubbles are strong, the ghosts are sneaky and fast and will eventually escape.

I’ve taken my Boo Bubble generator into my daughters’ classrooms since they were both in kindergarten and I’ve also shared this activity during a Halloween science club last year. Boo Bubbles never fail to amaze, engage and keep the kids asking to “Do it Again!”

This activity works best with a ghostly story told first or a quick lesson on the properties of dry ice. Dry ice can be purchased at local grocery stores and I’ve also seen it at a few Walmarts. Bring gloves and a cooler with you to the store to protect your hands. You will want thick leather gloves and not cotton gloves for safety.

Here’s how to make your own Boo Bubble generator. You will need:

  • Two liter bottle
  • Dry ice (ask the front desk at your local grocers)
  • Heavy duty glove
  • Funnel
  • Rubber tubing
  • Dish soap
  • Utility blade (box cutter)
  • Small plastic portion cups (2 oz works best)
  • Towel
  • Bubble gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Adult supervision
Step by Step Instructions: 
  1. Use a utility blade (like a box cutter) to carefully cut the top off of the two liter bottle. Make sure the the hole in the top of the two liter bottle is not larger than the funnel you’ll be using.
  2. Attach a length of rubber tubing to the narrow end of the funnel by squeezing the funnel into the tubing.
  3. Use the utility blade to cut a hole in the bottom of a small plastic portion cup just large enough to fit the rubber tubing.
  4. Slide the end of the rubber tubing (not attached to the funnel) into the hole in the portion cup.
  5. Mix up a batch of your favorite bubble solution in a cup that is large enough to fit your portion cup. (View our recipe here.)
  6. Fill 1/6 of the two liter bottle with warm water and add in a few pieces of dry ice.
  7. Place the funnel over the hole in the two liter bottle. Awesome! The smoke comes pouring out of the tube! If you adjust how much of the hole is covered by the funnel, you’ll see a change in the pressure of the smoke coming from the tubing. Once you’ve figured out a comfortable pressure, remove the funnel.

  8. Dunk the portion cup into the bubble solution and cover the top of the bottle with the funnel and watch what happens!
  9. When the bubble reaches the perfect size, gently shake it off of the portion cup and it will quickly fall to the ground (it’s heavierthan a normal bubble because the bubble is filled with carbon dioxide gas and water vapor).
  10. When the bubble hits the ground, it bursts and the cloud of fog erupts from the bubble. The ghost escapes and you have to go capture another.
  11. Want your Boo Bubbles to last? Shake them onto a towel!

Touchable Boo Bubbles!

Purchase a pair of Bubble Gloves (100% cotton gloves also work well). Blow a Boo Bubble about the size of a baseball. Bounce the bubble off of your gloves. Try bouncing the bubble off of your shirt or pants. As you’ll soon see, some fabrics work better than others. Kids will go crazy for this activity. When I have done this in the classroom, I look out into a sea of gloved hands all ready for a bubble. They bounce it and show their friends. When it pops, the hand comes right back to me for another Boo Bubble. I love all of the looks of wonder and excitement on kids of all ages.

Boo Bubbles Generator

If you’d rather skip making your own and go straight to an all-in-one kit, check out our Boo Bubble Kit. It comes complete with a generator, dish soap and gloves. All you need to provide is the dry ice.

Halloween Chemical Magic – Trick Your Friends and Remove Evil Spirits

It’s a classic science reaction that dates back to the late 1800′s. The Classic Iodine Clock Reaction reaction was used by magicians and psychics at Halloween time to remove the evil thoughts or evil spirits from someone’s body and mind. They obviously doesn’t actually remove anything…they just make starch.

This reaction is delayed for a few seconds, which can make the subject startle and believe that they actually made the liquid change. For more information on the Landolt Clock Reaction, visit the Think Ink Experiment.

Note: This method is not recommended for anyone other than a chemistry teacher or a chemical demonstrator. Safety goggles must be worn at all times and gloves are required when handling sulfuric acid. Preparation for this demo must be conducted in a well-ventilated area. The Steve Spangler Science team developed a safer do-at-home  version of this experiment called Think Ink. This kit is a preferred version to use in a Haunted House or Halloween party with adult supervision.

How does it work?

This reaction is referred to as the Landolt Clock Reaction. There are three steps in the process that cause this amazing reaction. When you prepare the Solutions A, B, and C, the chemicals begin to mix and form new chemical compounds. This is a very slow reaction, so you don’t see any outward changes. When you begin to pour the solutions together a much faster reaction occurs, which leads to the third reaction which is instant. Suddenly, and immeasurably quickly, the clear liquids turn into a jet black iodine-starch complex. These reactions happen at different intervals because different chemicals react at different speeds.

 

 

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.

A Drop Dead, Knock Your Socks Off Halloween Costume Uses a Few Science Toys for Final Touches

Last year Anastasia, aka Acid Pop Tart, ordered several of our Baby Soda Bottles, Test Tubes and more  for her Bride of Frankenstein costume.

To say she built the extremely original costume is an understatement.

We are happy to share that Acid PopTart won first place in a few contests, but didn’t win enough to cover the cost of the costume.

Anatasia made the costume from salvaged materials, like a vintage medical corset and various bolts, wiring and 1950′s vacuum tube. She hand-dyed everything and created rusted metal parts with hot glue, iron paint primer and antiquing solutions. This is one serious Halloween fan.

She also used a lot of test tubes. They were placed on her shoulders with glowing liquids and held in place with wire coils and tubing. They contained green, glowing liquid that sloshed around as she walked.

I needed something air tight, but that I could empty out and refill as needed. Those test tubes SAVED me! They were perfect.

- Anatasia, aka Acid PopTart

A test tube was also attached to her leg with wire coils and tubing to look like a power supply.

We hear Acid PopTart is already working on a carnival-themed haunted funhouse for this Halloween. We can’t wait to see what she dresses up as this year.

What are you dressing up as this Halloween? If you have an amazing science-themed costume, please share it with us via our Facebook or Twitter channels. We may just share it with our readers.

 

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.