Bouncing Bubble Experiment
- Pour a small amount of Bouncing Bubble Solution (seriously, just a little bit will do fine) in the portion cup.
- Use a pair of scissors to cut off the tip of the pipette’s bulb. This is also a good opportunity to put your Bubble Glove on your hand!
- Dip the end of the pipette (the end you snipped) into the Bouncing Bubble Solution.
- Blowing into the stem of the pipette, blow a bubble onto your Bubble Glove-covered hand. The bubble doesn’t pop! Try bouncing the bubble off of your gloved hand. It really bounces! (See where we get the name?) You can even give the bubble a little squeeze, just make sure you use the Bubble Glove. One touch with your non-gloved hands and… POP!
- Bouncing Bubble Solution
- 2 oz portion cup
- Cotton Glove
- Adult supervision
How Does It Work?
A bouncing bubble is amazing because most people have never seen a bubble bounce much less be the person who actually does the bouncing! Experience shows that bubbles usually burst when they come in contact with just about anything. Why? A bubble’s worst enemies are oil and dirt and gravity. A “super” bubble will bounce off of a surface if the surface is free of oil or dirt particles that would normally cause a break in the thin soap film of the bubble. The problem with gravity and evaporation is that the water film gets very thin (down to a millionth of an inch) on the top surface as time passes. It finally gets too thin to hold onto itself and the wall collapses completely.
Similar to the way we perceive the colors in a rainbow or an oil slick, we see the colors in a bubble through the reflection and the refraction of light waves off the inner and outer surfaces of the bubble wall. You can’t color a bubble since its wall is only a few millionths of an inch thick. A bubble reflects color from its surroundings.
Take it Further!
- Make up a batch of Bouncing Bubble Solution with the ingredients listed to the right. Making your bubble solution at least 24 hours in advance and allowing it to sit undisturbed will allow the bonds in your bubble solution to strengthen. You know what that means, right? Stronger bubbles!
- Now, it’s important to remember that no two homemade bubble solutions are going to be the same. We suggest using the following ingredients, but the amounts of each my vary:
- Water – The single most important part of the bubble solution is the water. Good quality water that does not contain high levels of iron or minerals is best. If you’re uncertain as to the quality of your tap water, invest in a gallon of distilled water from the grocery store.
- Soap – When it comes to soap, Dawn® dish soap just seems to work the best for homemade bubble solutions.
- Glycerin – Glycerin is the secret additive that gives a bubble its extra strength. Don’t be too shocked by the price on a bottleof high quality glycerin. Contact the pharmacist at your local grocery store for availability. (Note: Some bubble recipes substitute Karo® Syrup for glycerin due to the expense and availability of glycerin.)
- Dish soap
- Adult supervision
While the Bubble Gloves offer the perfect surface for bouncing, squeezing, and touching your bubbles, you can actually use some other materials, too. Try bouncing a bubble off of your shirt sleeves, your hat, or even your feet. If your shoes are really, really clean (and soft) you might even be able to get in a short game of hacky-sack.
Science Fair Connection
Demonstrating properties of bubbles and bouncing them is pretty cool, but it isn’t a science fair project. You can create a science fair project by identifying a variable, or something that changes, in this experiment. Let’s take a look at some of the variable options that might work:
- Try testing different dish soaps. You can blow bubbles with different brands or try using the same brand, but with different scents! Which dish soap creates the longest lasting bubble?
- Test different materials! In addition to the Bubble Gloves, try t-shirts, towels, pants… whatever you would like. Time the bubbles to see how long it takes them to pop!
That’s just a couple of ideas, but you aren’t limited to those! Try coming up with different ideas of variables and give them a try. Remember, you can only change one thing at a time. If you are testing different liquids, make sure that the other factors are remaining the same!