Teacher: Can you break it [a piece of the flubber] off and put it in there?
Both boys break off pieces of flubber and place it in the basket.
Teacher: What do you think is going to happen to the flubber in the basket?
Grant: (Rolls flubber between his hands.) I don’t know.
Teacher: I don’t know either. Should we wait and see?
George: I’m all done.
Teacher: You’re done?
Grant: I’m gonna’ wait.
Teacher: You’re going to wait and see? (Breaks off a piece of flubber.) I might put a little bit more in there.
Grant: Me too. (Imitates teacher and breaks off more flubber and places it in the basket.)
Teacher: Let’s wait and see what happens to our flubber. Look underneath! Look. Look!
Grant shouts and looks up at the basket from below.
Teacher: (Squats alongside Grant and George.) What’s happening?
Grant: I don’t know.
Teacher: What’s happening?
Grant: I don’t know.
Teacher: What’s happening to the flubber?
Grant: It’s going down.
Teacher: It’s coming down! How?
Grant: (Stands and points to the bottom of the basket.) By those little holes.
Teacher: (Watches the basket attentively.) Okay. Let’s see what happens.
Laurel: I want to do this.
Teacher: You want to put some in? (Points at flubber.) Okay, take some out, and put it in the basket.
Teacher: Yeah, that’s right. It’s called flubber.
Karen puts more flubber into the basket.
Teacher: (Points to basket.) What do you think’s going to happen after a while?
Grant: I don’t know.
Teacher: (Watches as Grant and Laurel add more flubber to the baskets.) More? Do you think it gets heavier when we put more in?
Teacher: It’s oozing! (Looks at Grant.) It’s oozing out!
Grant adds more flubber to the basket.
Teacher: Oh! The basket is getting very heavy!
Laurel: (Puts more flubber into the basket.) Why?
Teacher: Because we’re putting more and more in, and it’s getting more heavy as we go. (Speaking in an expressive manner) And it’s starting to ooze, ooze and gooze, like flubber! (handing more flubber to Laurel) Flubber, dubber, do. Now, what do you think we should do?
Grant: (Pulls at the flubber in the top of the basket.) It’s getting sticked.
Teacher: It’s getting sticky?
Grant: (Pulls and stretches the flubber in the top of the basket.) No, it’s getting sticked to each other.
Teacher: It’s sticking to each other, isn’t it. (Grant pulls a piece of flubber off of the top of the basket.) Oh my goodness. Look at that!
Grant pushes down on the flubber in the basket.
Teacher: (Puts one hand underneath the basket.) Now what…should we put something underneath it to catch it? Do you think it’s going to fall out?
Grant: (Bends down to look at the flubber oozing out of the bottom of the basket.) Whoa! Look at it!
Teacher: I see! Is it going to fall out, do you think?
Teacher: What should we put under it?
Grant: (Reaches for the large plastic measuring container.) No, no, no, no, no!
Teacher: Okay. Well, you see if you can…you hold it there and see if it falls into the bucket.
Grant holds measuring container underneath basket.
Laurel: See, I put the plate under the other one.
Teacher: That was a good idea, Laurel. Is yours oozing, too? (Speaking expressively) Oozy goozy, flubber! (Speaking to Grant) You’re going to catch it, aren’t ya?
Teacher: That’s a big word, isn’t it? (Speaking very slowly) suspension.
Grant: How’d you do that?
Teacher: Well, we took some yarn, and we had a very tall person stand up and put the yarn around the limb of the tree.
Grant: Look what I’m doing. (Excitedly points to flubber that is coming out of the bottom of the basket.) Look!
Teacher: It’s a good thing you’ve got that bucket under there!
Teacher: (Imitates child’s shout of surprise.) Oh. Oozy goozy!
Karen: What’s in that basket?
Teacher: Do you remember the name of it? Do you know what flubber’s made out of?
Teacher: So, glue. Like you use in your classroom. Glue.
Grant holds measuring cup under basket.
Laurel: I use glue sticks at home.
Nancy: But I use regular glue.
Teacher: Whoa! What does that look like? Are you going to catch it if it falls? (Talking to Laurel.) Are you going to catch it?
Grant: In case it falls. No, I’m going to catch it!
Teacher: You’re going to catch…you’ve got your bucket, don’t ya? (Addresses Laurel and Nancy.) Is yours oozing and goozing over there, girls? I see it! (Laurel and Nancy begin to jump up and down with excitement because their flubber is oozing out the bottom of their basket.) How is that happening? What does it feel like?
Teacher: Ooey and gooey?
Grant: (Presses his right hand down on the top of the flubber.) Look, I made a handprint!
Teacher: Oh, did you make your handprint in there? (Stands up to look in the basket.) Oh yes, I see it!
In this clip, young children experiment with properties of matter. “Flubber” is a silicon polymer formed by the chemical interaction of borax, water, and white glue. It is intriguing to children because it seems to have properties of both a solid and a liquid. (A solid has a fixed volume and shape. A liquid has a fixed volume but takes the shape of whatever container it is in, by flowing—View description.) We see the flubber acting as a solid in this clip when children pull it in chunks from the container. We also see that a child is able to shape a chunk of it into a ball that holds its shape for some time after the child places it into the basket hanging from the tree. Then, the children notice that the pieces of flubber in the basket begin to behave like a slow-moving liquid, merging to become one large blob. As one child states, “It’s getting sticked.” Over time, more flubber is added to the basket, and gravity causes the substance to begin oozing through the holes in the basket. Though it flows more slowly than water would, it acts as a liquid.
The teacher uses several strategies to support children’s involvement in this experiment:
- Encouraging prediction: The teacher engages the children’s interest by asking them to predict what will happen. For example, she asks Grant whether he thinks the flubber is going to ooze out of the basket and then suggests that he put the bucket underneath the basket to catch the flubber in case it does ooze out of the basket.
- Modeling: The teacher models how to experiment by placing some flubber into the basket herself.
- Informing: The teacher alerts the children to useful information when she says, “Ooh, the basket is getting very heavy.”
- Providing vocabulary: The teacher provided the children with vocabulary to describe their observations when she says, “It’s oozing. It’s oozing out!” She teaches them the word “suspension” to describe the way the way the basket is attached to the tree.
- Encouraging observation: The teacher encourages the children to look more closely at what is happening by asking them to describe what they see. For example, she asks, “What’s happening to the flubber?”
- Listening: The teacher listens carefully and acknowledges the children’s observations. For example, when Grant says, “Look, I made a handprint!” the teacher says, “Oh, did you make a handprint?” and then she stands up so she can see it.
- Sharing enthusiasm: Throughout the experiment, the teacher models her own interest and delight in the changes in the flubber.
Benchmarks & How They Were Met
1.A.ECa: Follow simple one-, two- and three-step directions.
- The children listened to the teacher’s directions and questions and responded with actions (e.g., breaking off chunks of flubber) and verbal replies.
1.A.ECc: Provide comments relevant to the context.
- The children commented on the movement of the flubber. When the teacher explained that one of the ingredients in flubber was glue, Laurel noted that she had glue sticks at home, and Nancy said that she used “regular glue.”
5.C.ECa: Participate in group projects or units of study designed to learn about a topic of interest.
- Children continued to join the activity after the teacher asked “What do you think is going to happen to the flubber in the basket?”
11.A.ECc: Plan and carry out simple investigations.
- Grant and Laurel added flubber to the basket to see what would happen. With teacher guidance, they observed, commented, and took additional action (such as holding a bucket under the oozing flubber).
12.C.ECa: Identify, describe, and compare the physical properties of objects.
- Grant observed that the properties of the flubber changed. He noted that individual chunks began to become “sticked to each other,” that it began to ooze down through the holes of the basket (“It’s going down”), and that if he pressed his hand into the flubber, it retained his handprint.
13.B.ECa: Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.
- A berry basket suspended from a tree branch served as a tool for the children to explore the properties of the flubber.
16.A.ECa: Recall information about the immediate past.
- When the teacher explained that the flubber was made with glue, Laurel and Nancy commented about glue they used at home.
Physical Development and Health
19.B.ECa: Coordinate movements to perform complex tasks.
- Grant positioned himself underneath the suspended berry basket and held a container up to catch the flubber.
30.A.ECb: Use appropriate communication skills when expressing needs, wants, and feelings.
- Grant communicated his observation that the flubber was “going down” and that he planned to catch it if it fell. Laurel said, “I want to do this.”
30.C.ECa: Exhibit eagerness and curiosity as a learner.
- Grant decided to stay and watch what happened to the flubber in the basket. He expressed his eagerness when he exclaimed, “Whoa,” in response to the movement of the flubber. Laurel and Nancy expressed excitement about their oozing flubber.
30.C.ECb: Demonstrate persistence and creativity in seeking solutions to problems.
- When the teacher asked what could be put under the basket to catch the flubber, Grant found the large plastic measuring cup and positioned it below the basket. Laurel independently mirrored Grant’s efforts to prepare to catch the flubber.
30.C.ECd: Demonstrate engagement and sustained attention in activities.
- The children remained actively engaged with the flubber exploration for many minutes.
31.A.ECc: Interact easily with familiar adults.
- The children worked cooperatively with the teacher, answering her questions and making comments. They interacted as co-investigators to explore the flubber.
About this Resource
Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
- Child Care Center
- Family Child Care
- Preschool Program
- Teachers / Service providers
Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
- Preschoolers (Age 3 Through Age 5)