Unschooling: Soap Bubble Edition
Sometimes learning is what happens while you're busy decluttering the back patio...
My four-year-old found an old bubble wand and asked if we could make bubbles, so I googled this recipe and we set to work. She had a great time measuring, pouring and stirring, and she got to experience sugar disappearing in water to make a solution (yay, science and vocabulary!).
We were having so much fun blowing bubbles on our back patio that my seven-year-old decided to join the party. He wanted to see how far the bubbles could travel without popping, and noticed that there were several updrafts and wind currents that moved the bubbles along. We talked about how hot air rises, and about how wind currents change direction at different altitudes. We also tried out wands of different shapes and made our own out of pipe cleaners to see if they affected the shape of the bubble.
My little one came up with a fun experiment where she dipped a pipe cleaner in bubble solution and then pierced the bubble film on a wand without popping it! Then we tried making bubbles holding our fingers in an OK sign, which led to catching bubbles (this is much easier if your hand is covered in bubble solution). That led to talking about surface tension and surfactants, which led to observing the bubbles we were holding in our hands.
My son noticed swirls that flowed on the surface of the bubble, and I vaguely remembered seeing an experiment with milk, food coloring and soap that looked similar to the swirls. I stealthily snuck inside and googled "swirls in soap bubbles". That led me to the Marangoni effect, which led me to the experiment I was thinking of, and I had everything I needed to continue our learning journey when the bubble activity died down outside.
After lunch, my four-year-old and I poured milk and dye into a plate, and added one drop of soap. My seven-year-old, who claimed not to want to learn anything else about bubbles, was instantly drawn to the experiment and repeated it three times. During his second attempt, I pointed out the milk's surface tension (really easy to see on a flat plate!) and asked him what effect he thought the soap had on it.
And to wrap up a fun day, we took the solution and wands to the park and invited a couple of neighborhood kids to help us chase and pop bubbles. Whew! So much learning, so many discoveries, and so much fun... And all because my daughter found an old wand, we didn't have plans for the day, and I chose to say yes.
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