The Science of Oobleck

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The Science of Oobleck

May 14, 2020

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Say Oobleck five times fast. It’s a funny word, isn’t it?

Oobleck gets its name from the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. In this story, slimy Oobleck rains from the sky and makes a big mess!

Oobleck may be messy, but it is super fun and super easy to make. (Don’t worry, it’s also super easy to clean up!)

Here’s what you’re going to need if you want to make it at home:

  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • Extra corn starch (about a half a cup)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Stirring spoon
  • Small container or tray
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Toys and tools to explore the Oobleck with (strainers, funnels, spoons, forks, you decide!)
  • Paper towels

Step 1:

Mix your corn starch and water together in a small container or tray. Use a stirring spoon or your hands!

Step 2:

Check the consistency of your Oobleck. It should feel solid when you squish it between your hands and like a liquid when you relax them.

This is your time to experiment with different amounts of water and corn starch. If your Oobleck seems too runny, sprinkle in a little corn starch at a time. If it’s too doughy, add a little water.

Step 3:

Have fun and explore your Oobleck. Use spoons, forks, strainers, or just your hands! There are so many fun ways to play with Oobleck. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.

Important: When you are done with your Oobleck dispose of it in the trash, do not pour down the drain. Oobleck can settle in your drain and clog it. Wipe down tools and hands with towels before washing them. Or, you can let the Oobleck dry and sweep it up easily.

The Science Behind Oobleck

Oobleck is unique because its viscosity (or gooeyness) is changed by applying force and pressure, making it behave like both a solid and a liquid.

You are changing the viscosity (gooeyness) of your Oobleck when you apply pressure, making it feel like a solid. But when you release the pressure the Oobleck will liquify.

Try squeezing and then relaxing the Oobleck between your hands. What happens?

What are different ways that you can add force and pressure to your Oobleck? What are some different ways you can play with Oobleck?

Looking for more activities? Purchase a Play Along at Home kit and support the Museum at the same time.