I am mentoing a group of 6th graders through a STEM focused program. For their topic of interest they selected investigating bubbles. We have some bubble experiment books that can lead them through some simple longevity, size, and "self-healing" exercises, and we will probably complete a few of the tests just to give them some level of confidence when manipulating the variables.
While it is easy to follow a guide and repeat some standard experiments I was wondering if there is something that you think would be particularly beneficial for this wiki. Some experiment you have on your "to-do" list that is age appropriate 11-12 years old and can be completed with a group of 5 of them, ideally within about an hour from set up to clean up. Some pre-mix and measuring may be able to be completed prior to this time frame if required.
My goal for them would be to complete the experiment, maybe more than once in subsequent weeks and compile the results into a short video clip that could (with permission-still waiting on final word of this) be posted to youtube or even this wiki.
When questioned, the kids seemed interested in experimenting with colors, size, or longevity of the bubbles. If you have any suggestions on something that fits this and would like to get something knocked off your to-do list, please let know what you suggest.
Sorry to be so long getting back to you. Here are a few ideas:
measure the comparative longevity of bubbles at a variety of dilutions. Make sure to do enough trials at each dilution for the data to be meaningful. You can also have an interesting math discussion to look at the distribution of longevities at any one dilution. See if they can come up with an idea of how many trials you need to have a meaningful result. (I don't actually know the answer -- but know that it would be a useful statistic to have).
measure the influence of pH on longevity.
compare the longevity of solutions made with tap water, some bottled mineral water and distilled water.
compare the longevity of solutions that are just detergent and water and solutions that are detergent, water and a polymer.
Andy, I teach STEM to 4th graders, and I had my students compare the circumference sizes of bubbles made from a variety of bubble recipes. The students used a small wand made from a pipe cleaner, and blew their bubbles directly onto a large white sheet of butcher paper. After each bubble burst, they traced the outline of the bubble on the paper, measured the diameter, and calculated the circumference. They did 3 trials with each recipe and found the average circumference. They also had a partner use a stopwatch to calculate the longevity of each bubble. All results were entered on a data sheet, along with their conclusions/ inferences.
That is a great idea and I might use it next year. Unfortunately this year is nearly over. I have one more meeting with them and the current plan is to enjoy it with some KIB action if I can get a trough idea I have been working on to work out.
I made the mistake of over-reaching and trying to get them to test multiple factors. The program is too constrained timewise to investigate three factors (PH, tap vs distilled, and dilution ratio) at once with good note taking and data collection. So it resulted in fairly useless actual data collection, but the kids had a great time, and have learned a lot about bubbles and the possibilities with them.