Oobleck: Non-newtonian suspension fun at work

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Kelvin's first oobleckWe love being a sponsor of the NC Science Festival every year – and today we thought we would have a little fun with science! Many of us here at Curriculum Pathways are parents and our kids loved playing with "slime." We figured Kelvin would too, so we raided our cabinets, got a conference room, and made some oobleck!

What is oobleck?

Glad you asked!

"Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid; it has properties of both liquids and solids. You can slowly dip your hand into it like a liquid, but if you squeeze the oobleck or punch it, it will feel solid. The name oobleck comes from the Dr. Seuss book, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” In the story, oobleck, a gooey green substance, falls from the sky and wreaks havoc in the kingdom." - Livescience.com

You may have experienced oobleck as a kid (or a parent), but if you haven't, we encourage you to try it. It really is a wild feeling. You don't need much.

  • 1 part water
  • 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch
  • Small amount of food coloring (optional)

That's it. Sounds so simple.

How does it work?

Oobleck isn't your typical liquid or solid. Its state depends on the force applied to it. Applying force, such as squeezing or tapping it, will cause oobleck to be more solid, while just holding it in your hand will make oobleck feel like a liquid. This goo is called a suspension, meaning that the grains of starch do not dissolve but rather suspend and spread out in the water. Oobleck's properties are similar to that of quicksand.

If you step quickly, you can walk across. Go slowly and you will sink.

Another trick: Put oobleck on a speaker and watch it dance.

Want to learn more?

Check out one of our resources, Solution Properties.

VLab: Solution Properties

Learn how solutions form and investigate their properties. You'll observe and describe what happens when a solid or liquid dissolves in a liquid; determine how temperature, agitation, and surface area affect the rate at which a solid dissolves in a liquid; and investigate the impact of temperature, pressure, and solute characteristics on solubility.

Find out about other types of mixtures with Solutions, Suspensions & Colloids

Explore the characteristics of three types of mixtures—solutions, suspensions, and colloids—and apply these classifications to various substances. You'll summarize what you learn to answer this focus question: Orange juice, Jello, and mayonnaise—what makes them different?

And if you are a North Carolinian, be sure to check out all the awesome things happening with the NC Science Festival all month long. Fun for all ages!

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Brandy Mann

Social Media & Web Specialist

Brandy Mann is a social media specialist for SAS who focuses primarily on blogs and social web strategies. As a computer engineer with communication smarts, she uses her unique combination of talents to meld the worlds of web technology, analytics and marketing. In a former life, Brandy was a mommy blogger who couldn’t keep up with her kids, but now she survives on SEO and affiliate links. She remains passionate about computer science education, work/life balance and lip syncing with her kids on Instagram.

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