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Wednesday February 27, 2019 at 9:56am Age: 85 days
Category: Middle School, District


Lynn Villa’s sixth-grade science class students are now "oobleck"  experts!


In a recent class lab, students explored the properties of "oobleck," a simple mixture of cornstarch and water. An oobleck can feel like a solid when holding it but can become “liquidy” when letting it go. It takes the shape of whatever it holding it.


Oobleck gets its names from  Dr. Seuss’ 1949 “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” book, which tells the story of a young boy named Bartholomew Cubbins, who must rescue his kingdom from a sticky green substance called "oobleck" that falls from that sky.


Every day materials usually fit into one of three categories:  solid, liquid and gas.  Oobleck is unique because it can behave as both a solid and a liquid and belongs to a class of materials known as "non-Newtonian" fluids. ‘


Unlike water and other Newtonian fluids, non-Newtonian fluids respond differently depending on how quickly one tries to move them around.


Both are named after Sir Isaac Newton. He is noted for developing many scientific theories in mathematics and physics. Newton described how “normal” liquids or fluids behave, and he observed that they have a constant viscosity, or flow. This means their flow behavior, or viscosity, only changes with changes in temperature or pressure.


“We discussed other examples of ‘non-Newtonian’ fluids in the world around us,” said Mrs. Villa. “The food industry, for example, deals with many examples including ketchup, mayonnaise, jelly and cranberry sauce.  Understanding how these materials behave helps food scientists make tastier food products.”


Biologists studying cells are also interested in non-Newtonian fluids because the "goopy insides” of cells behave this way and this influence many cellular processes. 


For example, engineers are even finding ways of putting non-Newtonian fluids to use by using these types of fluids to fill potholes, according to Mrs. Villa.  


“It was a really great culminating activity where students were able to get their hands dirty and actually test their theories,” Mrs. Villa added. “There were lots of smiles and laughter as students chose their coloring and created their own oobleck to take home, sharing their knowledge and experience with family and friends.”  


To see more photos, visit the Minisink Valley School District's Facebook page.