Nutty Putty

Nutty Putty ~20 Minutes

Objectives: To make nutty putty, a substance that isn't clearly liquid or solid

Outcomes:
-describe properties of materials, including colour, shape, size, and weight (grade 2)
-identify the properties of solids, liquids, and gasses (grade 2)

Materials: School glue, Borax, Water, Food coloring, Small paper cups, Popsicle stick

Doing it:
A1. in a paper cup combined 1 tsp borax and 1 cup warm water and mix until dissolved.
A2. in a second cup, mix 1/4 cup white glue with 1 tbsp water and drop of food dye and mix well.
A3. pour 1 tsp of cup A into cup B and mix vigorously with popsicle stick until a clump forms (usually onto the popsicle stick)

B1. Remove clump from solution and knead in hands quickly, kneading will help nutty putty to form.
B2. play with the putty, does the putty bounce? does it stretch or flow? is the putty a solid or a liquid? why?

Fig 1.1 - Just after the borax solution is added and stirred.

Notes:

  • PDF Worksheet
  • Extended Experiment PDF Worksheet
  • Explanation: The glue is a very thick and sticky substance called a colloid. In a colloid the molecules are formed into long chains, so that the substance is all tangled like a bowl of spaghetti. Borax links to water molecules, which are part of the long colloidal chains, so that the chains become joined at many points. The substance will still flow, but forces cause the long stringy molecules to tighten up, allowing nutty putty to bounce.

Experiment Feedback

Nutty Putty feedback.
From Carmen Loewen and Mer Marghetti, tested on a grade 3 class, March 2006
This lesson could, and should definitely be taught because it creates an environment for hands on learning. The lesson is very easy to understand and the nutty putty is fun to create. The students will learn that it is possible for something to be both a solid and a liquid. They will also learn to predict and compare their results from the “wrong” experiments to the original nutty putty experiment.