What is a Baby Soda Bottle? – BSB Experiments
Plastic Test Tubes for Science and Art Activities
Over the years, Steve Spangler has popularized the name Baby Soda Bottle, or BSB, for our test tube look-alikes. Thousands of these reliable plastic tubes have been used for science labs and for art projects in classrooms and homes. After you explore our Baby Soda Bottles, you’ll be left wondering what you can’t do with them.
- Baby Soda Bottles
- Various materials as needed (See "Take It Further.")
- Adult supervision
Grab a Baby Soda Bottle and take a close look at it. You are the proud possessor of the most durable test tube ever made. However, it wasn’t originally designed to be a test tube. It has a secret identity. What do you think it is?
Carefully notice everything you can about the BSB. What is it made of? Why might it be called a Baby Soda Bottle? How breakable is it? Why are the walls so thick? Why are the walls thicker toward the bottom than they are at the top? What are the threads around the top for? Why does a Tornado Tube fit it so perfectly? What kind of cap could fit on it? Now you’re thinking like a scientist.
Collect all of your observations and hypothesize what a BSB could really be. Before continuing, use the observations you’ve gathered and write your hypothesis down on paper.
Keep in mind that data will either support or not support the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is not supported by the data, it doesn’t mean the experiment was unsuccessful. Remember that it’s all about the data. If scientists were always right, there wouldn’t be a need for experiments.
How Does It Work
The hypothesis should be a simple sentence that offers a direct answer to the question of the experiment. It shouldn’t be about what you think or believe — the data matter most and they will either confirm or not confirm the hypothesis. What you think, believe, feel or want to happen are irrelevant in science experiments.
The Baby Soda Bottle you studied looks like a large, clear, plastic test tube with cap threads around its top. Unlike ordinary glass test tubes, however, this thick-walled bottle can be thrown into the dishwasher, dropped onto concrete, banged together or stepped on and it won’t break. The name Baby Soda Bottle isn’t just a catchy title; these really are “baby” soda bottles.
In the plastics industry, the tube is called a preform. A preform is placed into a vacuum mold and heated. Hot, high-pressure air is blown into it and the soft plastic stretches like a balloon. It completely fills the inside of the mold, so the tube expands to about 40 times its original size. The plastic cools quickly, the mold is opened and a new bottle falls out ready to be filled with a refreshing beverage. A BSB is actually a 2-liter bottle before it grows up into a big soda bottle. That’s why a cap for a 2-liter bottle fits it exactly.
Take It Further
As it turns out, the preform is also perfect for use in a science lab or an art studio. You can use it for mixing, storing, collecting, analyzing and observing all kinds of stuff. Because the tube is made of thick plastic, it won’t break or shatter like glass will and it can easily accommodate hot and cold liquids. Here are a few suggestions on how you can use your BSB for science experiments and exciting art projects. Remember that there are many other ways you can use your BSB, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
Liquid Laboratory: Use BSBs to collect samples of water from lakes, ponds and streams to study later with a magnifying glass or microscope. In fact, you can collect anything that fits into a BSB to study it in the lab or for storage. Because soda bottle caps fit the BSBs perfectly, it’s easy to transport water samples without leaks.
Roots with a View: Grow plants in a BSB and watch the germination and sprouting firsthand. Fill a BSB with some potting soil and plant one or two fast growing seeds in each tube. Grass, radish, lettuce, pea or bean seeds work great. Plant the seeds near the wall of the tube so you can watch the roots spread down and stem grow up. Water it enough to keep the soil moist, but not soaked. Transplant to a larger pot when the plant outgrows the BSB.
Wave Bottle: Fill 3/4 of a BSB with vegetable oil and the rest with water. Add a single Color Fizzer Tablet or a few drops of food coloring and notice how it only colors the water. Seal the BSB with the cap. Tip the bottle back and forth to create waves of colorful fun.
Time Capsule: Use a BSB to hold a secret message and hide it from prying eyes. Just don’t forget where you hid it. Use it to store facts and information that you will open and share at some point in the future. The durable plastic tubes can even be buried without losing their structure, so the hiding places are endless.
Sands of Time: Carefully place layer upon layer of colored sand in the BSB to make a layered rainbow of sand.
The Marble Challenge: Fill 3/4 of the BSB with clean sand, granulated sugar or uncooked rice. Place a marble right on top of the sand. Cap the tube and find a way to move the marble from one end of the BSB to the other as quickly as possible. When you figure it out, make two or three more and challenge your friends. HINT: A rapid upward jerk followed immediately by a rapid downward jerk moves the contents of the BSB around the marble.
Popsicle Mold: You must use a brand-new BSB and cap for this activity. Wash the BSB and cap with soap and hot water and rinse thoroughly. Fill 3/4 of the BSB with your favorite fruit juice. Place a clean popsicle stick into the juice and screw on the cap. Place the BSB in an upright position in the freezer and allow the liquid to freeze. The BSB Rack is the ideal tool for keeping them upright. BSBs won’t crack or break in the freezer, so they’re perfect for making popsicles. To release the popsicle, run a little warm water over the opened BSB and remove the frozen treat.
Pop the Stopper: This one makes a mess, so you probably want to take it outside. Use a solid stopper that fits snugly into the opening of a BSB. Fill 1/4 of the BSB with water. Divide an Alka-Seltzer® tablet into quarters and drop 1/4 of the tablet into the BSB. Quickly seal the test tube with the stopper and point the stopped end away from all living things. The stopper will go sailing. Adjustments to water temperature, amounts of tablet and water used and the stopper pressure will change the outcome greatly.
Erupting, Bubbling Blobs: Fill 3/4 of the BSB with ordinary vegetable oil. Add one capful of tap water to the oil in the BSB. Notice how the oil and water do not mix. Drop one of the Color Fizzer Tablets into the test tube, but don’t put a cap on it just yet. Watch what happens inside the BSB. After the blobs have stopped moving, fill the rest of the tube with oil until it’s almost overflowing. Now, cap the tube tightly. Tip the BSB back and forth and watch what happens. Blobs of colored liquid will join together to make one big blob under the oil, like a lava lamp.
Magnifying Glass: Fill the BSB to the very top with water and seal it with a cap. Place the BSB against some printed material and see how it magnifies the words under it. The shape of the water in the BSB bends light in such a way that it enlarges the print.
Color Mixing Before Your Eyes: Fill three BSBs almost to the brim with water. Add one Color Fizzer Tablet to each BSB to make blue water, yellow water and red water. The fizzing is a chemical reaction occurring between baking soda and citric acid as they dissolve in water. The bubbles are carbon dioxide gas, which helps mix the color into the water. When the fizzing has stopped, add water to fill each BSB and cap all three. Hold each BSB to your eyes near a light to observe its color closely. Now, cross the yellow and blue tubes in front of your eyes and look through both of them at the same time. What color do you see where they cross? What color do the red and yellow BSBs make when they’re crossed?
For a twist, stretch a rubber band around all three colored BSBs. Hold the tube trio up to your eyes and look at the light. What colors do you see? Now, slowly twist and turn the colors in the BSBs and watch the colors change before your eyes. Count how many different colors you can see.
Color Mixology: Start with six BSBs. Three are the red, yellow and blue BSBs you made in the last experiment; the other three are empty. Pour some yellow into one empty BSB and add a small amount of red to it. Pour some yellow into the second empty BSB and add a small amount of blue to it. Finish by pouring red in the third empty BSB and adding a little blue to it. These are the basic primary and secondary colors. You can make all kinds of shades and hues by changing the amounts you mix together.
There are many ways you can use BSBs in your science experiments and art projects. Any time you need a durable, clear and leak-proof container, a Baby Soda Bottle is a great choice.