Friday, April 3, 2009

Bouncing Back to the Box of Borax

So we've finished with our impromptu study of polymers (at least the studying part), and I'm continuing to tinker about trying to perfect our recipe for laundry detergent and the other cleaners, but we still have a rather large amount of borax left. I'm beginning to think borax is a homeschoolers best friend. There are a lot of really fun projects and experiments that center on it.

We took a detour away from the borax with our polymer study, into the land of gummy bears, gumdrops, and diapers. Today I decided it was time to pull the box back out. I've noticed quite a few websites featuring borax crystal snowflakes. Since the weather outside remains wintry in Montana, I decided why not. It doesn't sound quite as tasty as rock candy, but it looks like they should turn out quite pretty. Maybe we can combine them with our diaper harvested fake snow to make a blizzard display for Easter.

Our directions came from . We filled glass jars with a solution of three table spoons of borax per one cup of water, and then hung pipe cleaners shaped into stars into the water by string tied to a pencil. I think that the amount of borax might be a little high, as we ended up with quite a bit settling on the bottom of the jar undissolved. We'll see what we end up with by tomorrow morning.

While I was on, I decided to check out their other suggestions for borax. I noticed they had a link for making a bouncing polymer ball. But we were done with polymers. Still, while the children loved the slimy, gooey, "flubber" we made, they were disappointed that it didn't really bounce. I checked out the link for the balls. It looked like something we'd have to try.

Actually the recipe was very similar to our flubber: borax, water and glue, but with the addition of a little corn starch. I dug around in my cupboards and finally located an old box of corn starch, and an unopened box of food coloring, and we were off. The only catch was we were out of Elmer's plain white glue, all we had left was washable glue. When we were making the flubber, we had noted that it stated very specifically not to use the washable variety of glue. We decided to plunge ahead.

Needless to say, we did not end up with a bouncy ball. We did get some very excellent Silly Putty like stuff though. It has the stretchiness and moldability of chewed gum, but the smooth and nonsticky texture of a deflated balloon (you can even blow some pretty good bubbles with it, as long as your careful not to get any in your mouth). All in all, a great toy for some Friday fun.

We may try making a bouncing ball another time, after I've had a chance to pick up some non-washable glue. For right now we've used up all the glue in house. However, I do recall seeing a recipe for homemade glue using borax...

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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