Subject Matter: Physical Science
National Standards: NS.58.1, NS.58.2
Plastic containers, three for each student
Water
Liquid dishwashing detergent (e.g. Dawn®)
Light corn syrup
Measuring cups and spoons
Stopwatch
Pipe cleaners, three for each student
Permanent markers, one for each student
One copy of the Bubble Solution Chart, below, for each student
One copy of the Bubble Data Table, below, for each student
Optional: tempera paint, unlined drawing paper
Surface tension: a property of liquid that gives their surfaces a slightly elastic quality and enables them to form into separate drops.
Hydrophobic (water fearing): not dissolving in, absorbing or mixing easily with water.
Hydrophilic (water loving): dissolving in, absorbing or mixing easily with water.

Begin the lesson by having students watch the Science Friday video, “Candy Corn In Space.” Review with students the definition of surfactant and surface tension. How are these terms related to soap bubbles? Tell the students that they are going to conduct an experiment with various ingredients to determine which combination makes longerlasting bubbles.

Hand out the Bubble Solution Chart below to each student, along with the required ingredients and three plastic containers. Review with the students the types of ingredients and their measurements for each solution. Ask students: Why is it important to keep the total volume of each solution consistent?
Ingredient

Solution #1
Detergent only

Solution #2
Detergent + Glycerin

Solution #3
Detergent + Corn Syrup

Water

1 cup (240 mL) +
1 Tbsp (15 mL)

1 cup (240 mL)

1 cup (240 mL)

Detergent

2 Tbsp (30 mL)

2 Tbsp (30 mL)

2 Tbsp (30 mL)

Glycerin



1 Tbsp (15 mL)



Corn
Syrup 




1 Tbsp (15 mL)


Have students prepare each solution in one of the plastic containers, and using a permanent marker, label each container with the solution number.

Have students make a pipe cleaner wand for each solution by bending and twisting one end of a pipe cleaner to form a circle. Make sure all three circles are the same diameter. Ask students why it is important to make each pipe cleaner wand with the same diameter.

Have students discuss different methods for testing which solution makes the longestlasting bubble. Tell students that one method would be to blow at least one bubble from each solution, catching it on their wand and timing how long the bubble lasts before it pops. Have students practice how to blow and catch bubbles with their wand.

Once the students have finished practicing blowing and catching bubbles, hand out the Bubble Data Table to each student. Tell students that they will use the table to record the number of seconds that each bubble lasts. Students should conduct four trial runs for each bubble solution. Ask students why do they think it is necessary to perform a few trials?

Solution #1 Bubble
Time (secs) 
Solution #2
Bubble Time (secs)

Solution #3 Bubble
Time (secs) 
Trial
1 



Trial
2 



Trial
3 



Trial
4 



TOTAL




Average Bubble Time in Seconds





For each bubble solution, have students calculate the average time in seconds that the bubbles lasted.

Have students analyze their data. Which formula worked the best? Why do they think it was the best formula? Are their results similar or different to those calculated by the other students?

How did the physical properties of bubbles change when the ingredients change?

What causes the colors and patterns in soap film?

Why do bubbles always form the shape of a sphere?

Is water the only type of liquid that has surface tension?

Have students design an experiment to test what happens when three or more bubbles meet or are stacked together. Why do bubbles of the same size always meet at a 120degree angle? What happens when bubbles of different sizes meet?

Have students create bubble prints by adding tempera paint to their bubble solution, using a straw to blow bubbles in a small cup, and letting the bubbles overflow onto a piece of sturdy white paper. Have students observe the prints and the shape formed by the bubbles. Why do the prints show the bubbles forming a hexagon structure?

Construct a paper tube to make giant bubbles

Demonstrate surface tension using a penny and a few drops of water

Learn about another astronaut’s experience with bubbles in space
Discussion