Bubble Up: A Science Activity with Bubbles
Regardless of age, a science activity with bubbles is interesting! Bubbles are fun to create and colorful to contemplate. This science activity with bubbles is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy some color bursting bubble science with the ones you love.
Here’s a little background before we start our science activity with bubbles:
What is a soap bubble?
You dip your wand, blow your breath and are rewarded with an orb that dances with color as it floats through the air. So simple and yet fascinating. Children chase them; adults delight in them. But what exactly are they? A soap bubble is simply air captured within a thin wall of a soap-water-soap mixture.
Why are floating bubbles round?
Everything is made up of atoms. Water molecules are made of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom (H2O). The structure of the molecule creates a slight charge that makes the molecules attract each other and cling together in a way that causes surface tension.
The soap stabilizes the bubble structure. You can make bubbles with just water, but they disappear quickly. When soap bubbles are free floating in the air, they become round because the liquid mixture naturally wants to create the smallest surface area (a sphere) for the maximum air volume inside.
Can I make bubbles in different shapes?
Yes, but they will not float. Free-floating bubbles will always be round. To take this science activity with bubbles further, visit Apologia’s Youtube Channel, Apologia World, for a fun video and instruction on creating bubbles of different shapes.
Why do bubbles pop?
Bubbles will pop if they touch a dry or sharp surface. This breaks the delicate soap-water-soap wall and the air inside can escape. They will also pop when the water contained in the bubble wall evaporates. This is why bubbles pop quicker on a hot sunny day.
Can I catch a bubble?
You bet you can, and it’s as simple as making sure your hands are clean of any dirt (sharp edges pop bubbles) and then rubbing some of your bubble mixture onto your hand to coat it with liquid (bubbles pop when water evaporates). You can even have some fun with just a drinking straw and your bubble solution. Use a straw to blow fun bubble structures directly onto your hand.
Can I make bubbles that last longer and grow bigger?
Yes! If you can make the wall of the bubble stronger (to avoid being easily popped) or if you can make the wall of the bubble thicker (to slow down the rate of water evaporation), you can make a bubble last longer and grow bigger. Common household items that would work when added to a small amount of your bubble solution would include:
- Unflavored gelatin
- Karo syrup
With the next three ingredients, add some rubbing alcohol, too:
- Xanthan Gum
- Guar Gum
- Baking powder
These are just a few gelling or thickening agents that could be successful. Experiment with adding different amounts of one type to your bubble solution. Do you get a better result if you combine several different types? Send us your photos and bubble recipes for our Facebook page.
Is there an easy way to blow larger bubbles?
Yes, let’s take this science activity with bubbles further. All you really need to successfully create a large bubble is a plastic or Styrofoam cup, a straw, and a little bit of thick bubble solution. Your solution works best if you store it covered and use only a little bit at a time so that the water doesn’t evaporate. Flip your cup upside down and cut a small hole to insert your straw. You are ready to go!
Why do I see colors in bubbles?
Bubbles are great at reflecting (light bounces off the surface) and refracting (direction of the light is changed) light waves from both the inner and outer layers of the bubble wall. The wall thickness also affects the colors you see.
Why do the colors move around my bubbles?
Spend some time watching the colors of bubbles. What do you notice? While the colors dance all around a bubble as it moves in the air, gravity will make the upper layer of a bubble wall thinner than the lower layer of a bubble wall. Ever notice how the bubble drips from the bottom while you are blowing it? That’s gravity at work. In a stable bubble, the colors will seem to drift toward the bottom of the bubble. This means the upper portion of the bubble is getting thinner because gravity is pulling on the bubble solution and your bubble is closer to popping.
Why do I see straight edges when bubbles combine?
Smaller bubbles tend to get absorbed by bigger bubbles. Bubbles of the same size, however, form a common surface. This results in a flat wall between them.
After making your own bubble solution, adding different ingredients to make your bubbles last longer or grow bigger, and observing bubbles with your students and family, here is a fun activity to do as you discuss all that you learned while doing this fun science activity with bubbles:
You will need:
- White stock paper
You will do:
- Cut out various bubble sizes and write some bubble facts, fun poetry, or favorite Scripture verses on each.
- Color the bubbles with multiple colors of your choice.
- Attach a string to each and hang them from the ceiling to enjoy what you’ve learned about bubbles today.
If you enjoyed this fun science activity with bubbles, you may enjoy Crystal Chemistry – Create A Fall Wreath To Share.