If you find yourself scratching your head with the latest slime obsession, keep in mind that making slime is actually science! Slime is chemistry. Polymers and Non-newtonian fluids can be a little confusing for young kids, but our short lesson in basic slime science is a perfect way to introduce the science behind the slime to your kids. We LOVE homemade slime.
START WITHT THE BEST HOMEMADE SLIME RECIPES
First off, have you ever made a really good homemade slime with your kids? If you haven’t (or even if you have), make sure to check out our collection of the BEST HOMEMADE SLIME RECIPES. We actually have 4 basic slime recipes from which all our themes revolve around.
We also have a FREE Printable Recipe Cheat Sheet at the bottom of this page. All of our basic slime recipes (and even some themes) have a video showing the slime being made (like the one below).
Making slime has proven to be extremely fascinating for kids and adults of all ages, but you might not be familiar with the basic slime science. This is great to share with kids who love slime because there’s a great learning opportunity built into this incredibly hands-on activity.
LEARN THE BASIC SLIME SCIENCE
Slimy science starts with the right ingredients including the right kind of glue and the right slime activators. You can see all our recommended slime making supplies here. The right glue is a PVA (polyvinyl- acetate) washable school glue.
You have several slime activators to choose from (all in the boron family). These include saline solution, liquid starch, and borax powder and all contain similar chemicals for making a slime substance. Cross linking is what happens when the glue and activator are combined!
SLIME IS CHEMISTRY
Chemistry is all about states of matter including liquids, solids, and gasses. It is all about the way different materials are put together, and how they are made up including atoms and molecules. Additionally, chemistry is how these materials act under different conditions.
Slime is a Non-newtonian fluid. A Non-newtonian fluid is neither a liquid or a solid. It can be picked up like a solid, but it also will ooze like a liquid. slime does not have its own shape. Slime can also change it’s shape to fill whatever container it’s placed in. However, it can also be bounced like a ball because of it’s elasticity.
Pull the slime slowly and it flows more freely. If you pull it quickly, the slime will break off more easily because you are breaking apart the chemical bonds.
SLIME, POLYMERS, VISCOSITY, AND MORE!
Slime is all about polymers! A polymer is made up of very large chains of molecules. The glue used in slime is made up of long chains of polyvinyl acetate molecules (that’s why we recommend PVA glue). These chains slide past one another fairly easily which keeps the glue flowing. Chemical bonds are formed when you mix the glue and slime activator together.
Slime activators (borax, saline solution, or liquid starch) change the position of these molecules in a process called cross linking! This is the reaction between the PVA glue and the borate ions in your slime activator. Instead of flowing freely, the molecules become tangled and create the slimy substance. Think wet, freshly cooked spaghetti versus leftover cooked spaghetti! Cross linking changes the viscosity.
You can experiment with the viscosity or thickness of slime using our basic slime recipes. Can you change the viscosity of slime with the amount of slime activator you use? We show you how to set up your own slimy experiments in the link below.
Below you can see how the slime spreads out like a liquid, can stretch, can bounce, and takes the shape of the container. Slime science is a very cool way to play and learn.
Whip up a batch of oobleck which is also a kind of slime and non-Newtonian fluid and compare the two!
We have NEW Teacher’s Guide for purchase. 24 pages of AWESOME slime science activities, information, and printable sheets. Click here.