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Slime Time

Level: 1 - 2

gelatin cube for study

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When one object moves against another, the result is friction.

What You Need

  • Mixing bowl
  • 4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
  • Hot water
  • Square baking pan
  • Vegetable oil
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 2 small bowls
  • Stopwatch or a watch with a second hand
  • Measuring cup

Don't let your child eat the gelatin cubes after they've been handled or after they're covered with lubricant!!!

What to Do

    In a mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin in two cups of hot tap water. Coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil. Pour the gelatin mixture into the pan and put it in the refrigerator until firm. Cut the gelatin into cubes about 1 inch x 1 inch. You should have about 64 cubes. Place 15 cubes into one bowl. Place the second bowl about 6 inches (about 15 centimeters) away from the cube bowl.
  • Place the watch so that your child can see it. Tell her that when you say go, you want her to start picking up the gelatin cubes one at a time with her thumb and index finger (caution her not to squeeze them!). Tell her to see how many cubes she can transfer to the other bowl in 15 seconds.

  • Tell your child to put all the cubes back in the first bowl. Pour 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid over the cubes. Gently mix the detergent and the cubes so that the cubes are well-coated. Have her use the same method as before to transfer as many cubes as possible in 15 seconds.

  • Throw away the cubes and detergent and wash and dry both bowls. Put 15 new cubes into one bowl and pour 1/4 cup water over the cubes, again making sure the cubes are thoroughly coated. Tell your child to see how many cubes she can transfer in 15 seconds.

  • Again, throw away the cubes and water. Put 15 new cubes into one bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over the cubes. Make sure they are well coated. Have her see how many cubes she can transfer in 15 seconds.

  • Ask your child to answer the following questions:

    • With which liquid was she able to transfer the most cubes?
    • With which liquid was she able to transfer the fewest cubes?
    • Which liquid was the best lubricant (the slipperiest)? Which was the worst?

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Communications and Outreach, "Helping Your Child Learn Science," Washington, D.C., 2005

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