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Bubbleology – The Science of Outdoor Fun
kids playing with bubbles during isolation

Bubbleology – The Science of Outdoor Fun

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Looking for an inexpensive option for some outdoor summer fun? With a little preparation, you can turn bubble blowing into an afternoon of scientific experiments.

The Science:

Bubbles are fascinating, no matter how old you get! Every soap bubble is a marvel of chemistry and physics. Soap (a surfactant) lowers the surface tension between liquids, allowing bubbles to form. A bubble is composed of three layers – a thin film of water, sandwiched between two layers of surfactant molecules (soap). This unique structure is what makes bubbles beautiful, but delicate! As long as the surface tension isn’t broken, bubbles can survive surprising situations.

Why are bubbles round?

Because bubbles are held together by surface tension, they must take on the most efficient, minimal shape – the sphere. Bubbles are the strongest when they are wobbling before their shape solidifies. This is the point where it’s easiest to bounce them and do certain tricks!

Here are some tips for turning bubble play into a great learning experience for your children.

Why do bubbles pop?

Bubbles don’t pop whenever they touch something. There are three reasons why bubbles break:

(1) too much wind, too fast

(2) evaporation due to time and heat

(3) their delicate surface breaks whenever they touch something dry. A child’s finger, a blade of grass, even a speck of dry dust can pop a bubble. The best solution? Make sure everything is WET! When I do bubble shows, I use humidifiers to make the air damp. A spray bottle will also do the trick. Spray the air around your bubble area often, or blow bubbles near a pool or sprinkler. Bubbles hate the sun – the heat speeds up their evaporation process. This is a great activity for an overcast day, or a shady spot – as long as there isn’t too much wind!

Read What You’ll Need on Page 2

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