We love science and STEM activities. A couple of years ago, we did a whole month of STEM activities with our 31 days of STEM activities series. Today’s cornstarch quicksand science experiment was our favorite science experiment for kids of the month.
We loved how the cornstarch mixture became a solid and a liquid at the same time. This classic oobleck science experiment is always a hit for kids, and makes the perfect quick science experiment! You’ll love how much fun it is to do with kids, and kids will love how messy it is.
Since the experiment is messy, it’s best to do it outside, or warn parents in advance to dress their kids in play-safe clothing on the day you’ll be doing this oobleck science experiment.
HOW TO SET UP A CORNSTARCH QUICKSAND SCIENCE EXPERIMENT WITH KIDS
WHY DO SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS WITH KIDS?
Science is a logical system for exploring our world. Each science experiment should include:
Kids should start every science experiment with a question, even if that question is just “what will happen?”
Before doing any experiment, children should record what they believe will happen.
This is where the fun part comes into play. Test the hypothesis to determine if it answers the question fully.
A Recording and Analysis
As the test is completed, record what happened and analyze why.
Try different variables and try a new test to see if the original answer is confirmed or disproved.
When you include these elements in your science experiment, you can learn a lot about the world, creative thinking, and applying logic to problem solving. Even if kids don’t go into science-related fields when they grow up, these skills can be taken anywhere in life.
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GET THE SCIENCE EXPERIMENT WORKSHEETS FOR KIDS!
Expand on your science experiments with the free printable science experiment worksheet. It’s the perfect way to help children go through the scientific process with every science experiment they try.
CORNSTARCH QUICKSAND OOBLECK SCIENCE EXPLANATION
Cornstarch and water mixed acts both like a solid and a liquid. Cornstarch and water is a suspension mixture with a solid dispersed into a liquid. When you press the mixture quickly, the starch molecules close together.
This causes the water to get trapped between the starch chains and create a semi-rigid structure. When you press slowly, this starch chain “block” doesn’t happen and the mixture flows like a liquid.
Because the viscosity of the mixture changes with force rather than heat, the cornstarch mixture is known as a non-Newtonian fluid.
Slime is another fun non-Newtonian fluid.
WHAT DO KIDS LEARN DOING THE CORNSTARCH QUICKSAND SCIENCE EXPERIMENT?
The biggest takeaway from this science experiment are non-Newtonian fluid science and viscosity science. Pressure causes the molecules in the starch to cling together, seizing up the mixture. But when you relax, the molecules relax and flow around your hand or foot or whatever they are on. Challenge your class to see what other non-Newtonian fluids they can think of. What makes these fluids different from regular fluids like water and syrup? Experiment with different amounts of cornstarch and water to see how long it takes for the mixture to become a full liquid, when it becomes a full solid, and what levels of viscosity there are in between those extremes.
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WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THE CONRSTARCH QUICKSAND SCIENCE EXPERIMENT
This post contains affiliate links.
For this experiment you will need:
- 1 box of corn starch
- A large bowl
- Food coloring
Argo Corn Starch 16 oz. Box (Pack of 4)18 x 26 Inch Plastic Tray WhiteFood Coloring Liqua-Gel – 12 Color Variety Kit in .75 fl. oz. (20ml) BottlesEngino Discovering STEM Newton’s Laws Inertia, Momentum, Kinetic & Potential Energy Construction KitThe Science Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained)The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You!The Science Book: Everything You Need to Know About the World and How It Works
DOING THE CORNSTARCH SCIENCE PROJECT
Mix the corn starch and the water together at a ratio of about 10 parts starch to 1 part water. Start the mixture by adding about ½ of a cup of cornstarch to about 1 cup of water.
Play with the mixture until it reaches the consistency that you want. You’re aiming for a texture that is runny when relaxed, but still firm enough to seize up when they hit the mixture.
CONRSTARCH QUICKSAND SCIENCE EXPERIMENT RESULTS
This cornstarch science experiment is messy, but is always a favorite with kids. Take it outside and make a big batch in a bucket or shallow pan. Then have the kids run across it really quickly. This makes it appear as if they are walking on water! Since they apply force when running, the mixture remains firm. But if they relax and stand still, the will sink into the goo. It’s just like quicksand!
Read the other posts in the 31 days of STEM activities for kids series!