Slime Time: Science Lessons with Slime

If you teach science to kids, then be sure to add slime to your upcoming lesson plans. The ooey-gooey globs are your next materials for demonstrating key scientific principles and course standards. While the look and feel of children's slime may be gross, it can be a beautiful asset in teaching students both simple and complex scientific concepts.

All About the Scientific Method

Slime can be used to familiarize students with the scientific method. To begin, allow students a few moments of play with their glob of slime. Once they have had a chance to play with the goo, ask them what observations were made about the slime's properties. Many objective comments will be made about the slime's properties. Its texture will be noted along with the slime's pliability, strength, color, and odor. Prompt students to devise questions about the slime's abilities in relation to its properties. Students may begin to wonder how far it can be stretched before breaking, how it would change if another ingredient were added to it, how long it would take for it to dry out, etc.

Once students have formulated a question about the slime, it is time for them to hypothesize. This means they will decide what they know about slime and make a prediction about their results based on their educated guess.

Next, students will get to use the slime in their experiment which will prove or disprove the science project's hypothesis. Students should conduct their slime experiments multiple times. For each trial, students must observe and record how the slime reacts during the experiment. Once these records have been made for multiple trials, it is time for students to analyze their collection of data on the slime. From the analysis, students may be able to reach a conclusion; however, the scientific method often results in sending the scientist back through the process again when a solid conclusion cannot be reached.

The States of Matter

Slime is also a useful tool when it comes to educating science students about the states of matter. One amazing thing about slime is that it seems to be a cross between a liquid and a solid. Test your students' knowledge about the states of matter using slime. What properties does the slime have that classify it as a solid? What properties does slime share with liquids? Discussions about this may make your kids want to continue their science experiments: Will slime freeze? Will slime take the shape of any container like water does? Answering the questions will surely feel more like play than learning!

Following Instructions and Keeping Records

Since science experiments require recording the steps one must take to conduct them, have students familiarize themselves with following a clear set of instructions to make their own slime. You can find variations of slime recipes on-line and you may purchase the ingredients in bulk on-line for your classroom. Do not forget to procure containers for any hand-made slime that you will be creating in your classroom.

If you are looking to challenge your students, provide them with all the materials they need to make slime but do not give the directions on how to actually make it. Instead, instruct students to use what they know about polymers and chemical reactions to figure out how the materials must be combined to make slime. Students should keep a record of the steps they take along the way as well as the amount of each ingredient that is being used. Students will discover that they need to mix each ingredient in a specific order for the slime to form correctly.

How to Make Slime

For one slime recipe, you will need glue, water, and Borax to form the slime; additionally, you will need stirring rods, beakers, and a graduated cylinder. If you don't have enough of these supplies to go around, you may have to perform a demonstration with student volunteers. Forty milliliters of glue should be added to a beaker and mixed with 25mL of water. In a separate container, dissolve 1 gram of Borax in 500mL of water. Add this solution to the glue mixture and then stir until the mixture stiffens. Food coloring can be added at this point if so desired. Students may ask what would happen if the glue were added after the Borax solution and 25mL of water were combined. Likewise, they may want to know what would happen if the food coloring and glue were first mixed. Have fun and learn by finding out in another experiment!

Slime is a great teaching tool for use in classroom science activities. It is fun and educational even if it is a bit messy and gross! Find premade slime in most places where children's toys and school supplies are sold. Comment on your classroom activities that use slime to teach science.