Bubble Science

bubble sciene

When most people think about the month of March they probably imagine the color green, shamrocks or other symbols of St. Patrick’s Day. But did you know that National Bubble Week also occurs in March? What better way to celebrate this wacky holiday than by constructing a simple cone that will produce gigantic bubbles.

Materials:
Copy paper
tape
scissors
dish soap
water
glycerin or corn syrup (optional)
pie pan or other shallow dish


To Do:

 1.| M
ake bubble solution by combining ½ cup of dish soap with 5 cups of water. For stronger bubbles, add 2 tablespoons of glycerin (available at most drug stores) or light corn syrup.
 2.| Fill a shallow dish with some bubble solution and set it aside for later.
 3.| Now it’s time to make your bubble blower. Start by laying two sheets of paper on top of one another. Beginning at one corner, roll the paper into a funnel shape. Your funnel should look a bit like an ice cream cone, with a very narrow opening on one end and a larger opening on the other.
 4.| Adjust the size of the cone so that the diameter of the wider opening is 1¼ to 1½ inches.
 5.| Once your cone is the proper size, tape the edges of the paper in place so that the cone stays together even when you let go of it. You will be dipping the wide end of the cone in the bubble solution, so don’t put any tape too close to this end.
 6.| Next, cut off a bit of the small end of the cone so that this opening is a little less than ½-inch wide.
 7.| Now trim the “points” off of the larger end of the cone so that the edges are completely smooth. Keep trimming until the cone can stand upright on this end.
 8.| Stand the cone in the shallow dish of bubble solution and leave it there for 20 to 30 seconds.
 9.| Remove the cone from the solution and blow carefully through the smaller opening. A steady stream of air will result in a larger bubble.
10.| Once the bubble has reached a size that you like, separate it from the cone by quickly flicking the cone.
11.| Dip the cone back in the bubble solution and try again. (You don’t need to submerge it as long this time—a few seconds should be fine.)
12.| It might take a bit of practice to make really big bubbles, so keep trying. If your tube gets too soggy, just make another one.


Now Try This:

What might happen to the bubbles if you changed the size of the openings on your bubble blower? Try it and find out. You can also make cones out of other types of paper, such as construction paper, cardboard, or even waxed paper.

What’s Going On?
This simple cone produces large bubbles due to a phenomenon called capillary action. If you have ever dipped the end of a paper towel in water and watched the water rise up the towel, you have witnessed capillary action. When you place the paper cone in the bubble solution, the solution is absorbed and fills in the tiny spaces between the paper fibers. As you blow through the cone and the bubble begins to grow, the extra solution is pulled from the paper to form a bigger and bigger bubble.

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Debbie DeRoma is the Education Manager at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

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