What do you get when you combine water, cornstarch, an amplifier and a speaker? (Besides a mess.) You make cornstarch monsters.
Depending on the frequency played through the speaker and the vibrations it makes, the cornstarch will move and dance. Cornstarch is a non-Newtonian fluid which means it becomes a solid when it is under stress and a liquid when it flows. The trick is to find the right frequency that makes the best vibrations to move the cornstarch. You can actually see the sound.
This is a fun activity to take to a friend’s house and borrow their stereo equipment. For more on Cornstarch Monsters, read the experiment.
Mixing 2,500 pounds of cornstarch with the kitchen mixer just didn’t work, so we had to find a cement truck… and a very cool cement truck mixing guy. Oh, and you also need three people who know exactly what the cornstarch mixer should feel like when it’s perfectly mixed. Jeff, Carly and Renee served as the mixologists while I called the producer at the Ellen Show to let him know that we were ready to roll to the studio.
The final step is to drive the cement truck filled with 2,500 pounds of cornstarch and 250 gallons of water to the back lot at the Ellen Show and pour the goo into a giant bathtub – 7 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. It’s also a good idea to have your oobleck mixing experts change their clothes and spend the next 4 hours mixing the goo by hand to ensure the perfect consistency right before the tub gets moved on stage. How do you move a tub that weighs about 6,000 pounds? Using a forklift, of course.
We just returned from taping the Ellen Show and we had a blast. As always, Ellen and her staff treated our entire team (four of us traveled to Burbank, CA in order to pull off the cornstarch demo) wonderfully. There are lots of pictures to share in the next few days and some fun things that happened as prepared for the Cornstarch Water Walk demo. There's also lots of chatter on the Ellen blog about people wanting to do the science demos they saw on television. We posted the links you need on our Ellen's Wild About Science page.
The web producers at the Ellen Show posted the video segments late this evening and the links are below…
Blinded Her With Science – A quick look at the classic iodine clock reaction and the exploding bubbles. As you might imagine, Ellen was wearing very good ear plugs and safety glasses.
Rehearsal Tape – People ask what rehearsal looks like. Here's producer Slade Abisror experiencing the exploding bubbles for the first time. If you can read lips, you know what his exact words were when the bubbles exploded.
Cornstarch Water Walk – One of the producers said, "Don't try this at home… unless you want to purchase 2,400 boxes of cornstarch and a giant tub." This sounds like a challenge!