Science Saturday: The Lab Results

The Saugus Public Library hosted 8 young scientists on Saturday to make and study homemade silly putty.  The response was unanimous: it’s really cool.  Literally, too!  Silly putty is cold when you first make it.

First we took stock of our supplies: Lab reports, markers, Elmer’s School Glue (it works best for this recipe), plastic cups, wooden stirring sticks, Borax, water, and food coloring.


The supply table ... after everyone took their supplies.

Then, we mixed our ingredients (see the recipe below), stirred the gloopy concoction, and started making scientific observations!

For instance, the putty will stick to fabric, carpet, and paper.

It also doesn't really respond when you hit it like a drum.

It will, however, squish in your hands and break if you pull very quickly.

It will also mold into shapes if you pull very very slowly.

It flows like water (goopy, thick water) if you let it drip from your hands!

We all had a great time!  Don’t miss the next Science Saturday, October 23rd from 2-3pm (ages 6-9).  We’ll be exploring the power of the sun and making color-changing lanyards to take home.  Call (781) 231-4168 ext. 14 to sign up!

Basic Putty Recipe
Note: Borax should never be eaten, so don’t use your kitchen plates, bowls, or silverware for this experiment. An adult should help, and wash your hands well after you’re done.
1/4 cup Elmer’s School Glue
3 tablespoons water
Food coloring (optional)
1/4 cup Borax (look in the laundry aisle at big discount stores)
1 cup water
2 plastic cups
1 stirring stick
1 plastic or foam plate

In one cup, mix the 1/4 cup of glue with 3 tablespoons of water and stir very well. It should look kind of like milk! If you want, add food coloring (about 10 drops is plenty).

In the other cup, mix the Borax into a cup of water. Stir well. Not all of the Borax will dissolve, but that’s ok.

Measure about 1/4 cup of the Borax solution into the glue mixture, then stir stir stir! You should immediately feel the glue turning into a gloopy blob. When your arm gets tired, shake the putty onto the plate and let it sit for a minute. If there’s a lot of water, you can pour it down the drain. After that, pick up your putty and start to play! It bounces, tears, stretches, drips, and even flows. Just don’t get it stuck on clothes, hair, or the carpet.  Put the putty in a plastic bag to save it for later.


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