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Age Range all ages
Group Size small (1-5), medium (6-20)
Setting indoors, outdoors
Setup Time medium (6-30 min)
Duration medium (11-30 min)
Materials 1 teaspoon borax, 1.5 cups water, ½ cup glue -food coloring, spoon, two cups, large mixing bowl
Alias gak, borax and glue slime
Presentation Style interactive, student led

Brief Description

Students create slime or gak-like stuff using borax and glue.

Scientific Background

The mixture of Elmer’s Glue with Borax and water produces a putty-like material called a polymer. In simplest terms, a polymer is a long chain of molecules. You can use the example of cooking spaghetti to better understand why this polymer behaves in the way it does. When a pile of freshly cooked spaghetti comes out of the hot water and into the bowl, the strands flow like a liquid from the pan to the bowl. This is because the spaghetti strands are slippery and slide over one another. After awhile, the water drains off of the pasta and the strands start to stick together. The spaghetti takes on a rubbery texture. Wait a little while longer for all of the water to evaporate and the pile of spaghetti turns into a solid mass -- drop it on the floor and watch it bounce.

Many natural and synthetic polymers behave in a similar manner. Polymers are made out of long strands of molecules like spaghetti. If the long molecules slide past each other easily, then the substance acts like a liquid because the molecules flow. If the molecules stick together at a few places along the strand, then the substance behaves like a rubbery solid called an elastomer. Borax is the compound that is responsible for hooking the glue’s molecules together to form the putty-like material. There are several different methods for making this putty-like material. Some recipes call for liquid starch instead of Borax soap. Either way, when you make this homemade Silly Putty you are learning about some of the properties of polymers.

This Is How You Play

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of borax in 1 cup of warm water, set aside
  2. Mix ½ cup (4 oz.) white glue and ½ cup warm water. Add food coloring if desired.
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine separate mixtures. Stir slowly.
  4. When slime begins to form, use hands to mix. The slime will become more putty-like the longer it’s played with.

(1 teaspoon borax dissolved in 1 cup water) + (mixture of ½ cup white glue and ½ cup water+ optional food coloring)

Alternatively, if each kid is making their own slime, applesauce containers can be used to hold the diluted glue mixture (using the same 1:1 glue to water ratio), and teaspoons of a pre-made borax/water mixture can be gradually added while the mixture is slowly stirred. Popsicle sticks work well for stirring.

See Also


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