Bubble Science that Won’t Burst Your Brain

4 06 2012

When was the last time you played with bubbles? Maybe you were taking a bubble bath, or doing the dishes? Maybe you took a bottle of bubbles to the park. At the Austin Children’s Museum, we love bubbles! We blow bubbles at the Box Office, and play with bubbles at Discovery Time – we even had Bubble Day at Camp!

Bubbles by Stellajo1976 on flickr

When we are using lots of bubble solution for an activity, we like to make our own using this recipe from our friends at the Exploratorium:

  • 2/3 cup Dawn dishwashing soap
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of glycerine (available at the pharmacy or chemical supply house.)

We’ve also been enjoying blowing the Touchable Bubbles that are available for sale in the Museum Store. These bubbles become touchable after a few seconds in the air – we find them all over the Museum!

Have you ever tried to blow a bubble with a wand that wasn’t round? What shape did the bubble become? Even if you blow a bubble from a square or triangle wand, it will end up being a sphere. That’s because the “skin” of the bubble shrinks to the shape with the smallest surface area for the volume of air inside the bubble, and that shape is always a sphere.

Bubble on grass by jMorgan90 on flickr.

When two bubbles bump into each other, their walls meet to minimize surface area. If two bubbles the same size meet, the wall between them will be flat. If one bubble is smaller than another, it will bulge into the larger bubble.

There are lots of cool patters, observations, and colors to check out when blowing bubbles. It’s some of the most relaxing scientific investigation we can imagine!

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