Square Bubbles - Bubble Geometry
Do square bubbles really exist? That's the question of the day and the answer is yes… if you know the science secret. Square bubbles are easy to make and serve as a great learning tool as students explore the concepts of soap films and surface tension. Get ready to amaze your friends.
Making Bubble Solution
- Find a container to hold about 7.5 liters (2 gallons) of water.
- Add approximately 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap. You may need to tweak the amount of dish soap and water slightly. The real "bubble masters" prefer the Dawn® brand but other brands work, too. Just try to avoid dish soap that contains antibacterial products.
- If you have it on hand, add some glycerin* to your bubble mixture.
- Mix the bubble solution gently with your hand. For crystal-clear bubbles, be sure that you always keep the surface free of foam. If the water is hard in your area, add extra dish soap.
- Like fine wine, bubble solution improves with age. If you can, leave the mixture in an open container for at least one day before using it.
*Perfectly good bubbles can be made without adding glycerin, but adding glycerin keeps the water from evaporating and makes the bubbles much stronger and longer lasting.
Building a Square Bubble Maker
- Use scissors to cut each of the six pipe cleaners and straws in half
- Take three pipe cleaners at twist them together. The resulting shape should resemble a three-sided pyramid. Repeat until you have four "pyramids."
- Slide one of the nine straws over each of the pipe cleaners.
- Twist two pipe cleaners, from separate "pyramids," together. Continue this process until you have created a cube.
Creating a Square Bubble
- Dip the Square Bubble Maker into the bubble solution, making sure it is fully submerged, and pull the apparatus back out of the solution.
- Lightly wiggle and jiggle the cube until you have a bubble shape that looks like the image on the right.
- Set the Square Bubble Maker on a flat surface to insure the bubble shape doesn't change.
- Use a bubble wand or pipette (cut off half of the pipette's bulb) to blow a bubble and drop it into the middle of the Square Bubble Maker.
- Voila! The bubble you dropped into the Square Bubble Maker magically transforms from a sphere to a cube.
How Does It Work?
Bubbles form because of the surface tension of water. Hydrogen atoms in one water molecule are attracted to oxygen atoms in other water molecules. They like each other so much, they cling together. So why are bubbles round? The physicists will tell you that bubbles enclose the maximum volume of air in the minimum amount of bubble solution, so that's why they are always round. In this activity, as you dip the Square Bubble Maker into the solution, the solution is stretched between the struts and the bubbles cling to the sides of the structure, causing the bubbles to be square.