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Monday, January 30, 2012

Learning about Molecules and making GAK

Today we had a great time discussing molecules, yup, that's right molecules!
I know they are preschoolers, but since we were doing a science project where we would be transforming a liquid into an organic compound (semi-solid form)
I was inspired by a website that went into details about molecules, so I thought it would be fun to talk about them with the kids.
Molecules are small particles that make up all living and non-living things, and as I told the children this, I asked them to picture the smallest thing they could imagine and that molecules in our bodies were probably smaller than that.  I talked about how we were going to make gak or slime as some call it, and that it would change from water to a rubbery material we could play with.
I also bartered with my daughter to let us use her molecule looking blocks at school today (this is one of her "non-school toys".)  I pointed out that molecules look a lot like these blocks and let them play around with them for a while.  Then we took all the forms they made and made one big one.  I pointed out that we just changed the molecular structure by taking their structures and adding them together to make a new one. I then let them know we were about to do the same thing when we make the gak.  Sounds a bit heady, but really it was just a bunch of play and fun with some big words thrown in now and then.
Recipe for Gak
8 oz. glue (I have a big jug, but an 8 oz. bottle poured out will do)
warm water
1 tsp borax soap added into 1/2 cup warm water
a large bowl and mixing spoon
Ziploc bag for when you are done.

1.  Empty the 8 oz. of glue into your bowl
then empty 8 oz. of warm water into the bowl.  If you are using a bottle of glue, add the water to the bottle and shake it around and then pour it in to get more of the glue out of the bottle.

Stir your glue and water mixture and then add your food coloring and continue to mix

I added the teaspoon of borax into the 1/2 cup of warm water before starting the project, I do not have the children handle the borax soap, and if you use this recipe please only allow adults to.  It is only a laundry booster, but it should not be handled by children.

after the glue mixture is mixed thoroughly, then add the diluted borax and begin stirring.
Almost immediately it starts to change. 

Eventually you have to get you hands in it to stir it, but this crazy stuff can just be peeled off as it starts to solidify.
(photo courtesy of Elianna)

We had a ball playing with it and included some sea life in our play.
One student (J.P.) decided the seals needed scarves, nice touch I thought.

Here are some of the children's observations:

T.M.- "It bounces like rubber."
E.P.B- "It bounces like Scooby Snacks, it's chewy and gooey like scooby snacks."
J.P- "it feels like rubber, isn't it funny."
E.G.H- "It feels gookie."
M.K- "It feels like rubber, beany-bopily rubber."

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