I’m know for being science-phobic (I took yearbook instead of chemistry in high school), but the Scientific Explorer’s Mind Blowing Science Kit for Young Scientists Santa got Carter for Christmas could change that. Today Carter and I made “magic goo.” Try it even if there’s no kid around.
Simply mix 5 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/8 cup (1 ounce) water in a bowl with your fingers. Squeeze the mixture, ball it up, put it down. What happens? Is it a liquid or a solid? Technically, this corn starch-water mixture is a “non-Newtonian” liquid, which means pressure as well as temperature can affect its viscosity. (Newton was in the temperature-only camp.) When you squeeze the mixture, it feels like a solid, but take away the pressure and it goes quickly back to liquid state.
Of course beyond the science lesson about solids and liquids, tactile exploration is a key benefit of this easy science experiment. Bottom line, though, do it yourself with or without kids because it’s fun.
For more details and a larger-scale recipe, check out Steve Spangler Science’s take on this chemistry experiment. The site’s tagline is “making science fun!” It’s never too soon to start or too late to try.