Stepping into Science: B for Bubbles

4 min read

Stepping Into Science is a new series where we will explore exciting science facts about animals from A-Z. There will also be activity ideas accompanying each post to extend your child’s learning.

What emotion do you associate with bubble play? For me, it is happiness! Bubble play has never failed to pique my curiosity as a child. There are many ways to explore bubble play that often allow us to think out of the box. From forming the largest bubble to engaging in sensory play with soapy foam, bubble play is highly sought after by young children. Here are some ways you can explore bubbles through playing with your child!

How are bubbles formed?

Besides making bubbles with just soap and water, how else can we make them? Invite your child to explore alternatives with commonly found materials, such as baking soda and lemon juice. Find out how to do so here!

Lemon volcano

What shapes do bubbles come in? 

Make bubble wands of different shapes out of pipe cleaners, wires, or straws. Are they still round when released into the air?

Bubble leaving a star-shaped wand as a sphere

You may notice that even though we may be able to form bubbles with wands of different shapes, they end up round as they float into the air. Being round helps the bubble to contain the most amount of air using the least amount of soap.

Why do bubbles look colourful?

Create a large round bubble wand. Hold it vertically and watch the bubble film thin at the top. What do you see?

Observing colours of bubble film through a bubble wand

White light consists of different colours. As light travels through the different parts of the bubble film of different thicknesses, it bounces off differently in different angles. This results in different colours of light seen at different parts of the soap film.

As the water between the soap film is pulled downwards due to gravity, the bubble film becomes thicker at the bottom. The thinner film at the top appears as irregular bands. It is also interesting to note the colour change of bubbles over time. Thicker regions of the bubble film are pinkish-green while thinner regions of the bubble film are bluish-yellow. As the thinnest region of the bubble film is about to pop, it will appear colourless.

Why do bubbles pop?

Make a bubble solution using just soap and water, and another with a thickening agent such as corn syrup. Find out which bubble solution is better by counting the number of times you can bounce the bubbles on a pair of clean gloves! 

Bouncing bubbles with gloves

Bubbles pop when the layer of water in between the two layers of soap films dries out. Thus, bubbles tend to pop more easily during windy or sunny days when the layer of water dries out more easily. We can add thickening agents, such as corn syrup or glycerine, to a bubble solution to thicken the bubble film and prevent water from evaporating easily.

Conclusion

The activities above are examples of learning through play, where your child can develop process skills such as observing, predicting, measuring and classifying. What other ways can you engage your child? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Lim Kah Suan
Illustrations by Chua Jia Qi

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