Exploring the "Goo-ey" Properties of Matter
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
Through this lesson, students use prior knowledge about the properties of matter to assign reasonable properties to an unknown substance. Students will see science as another form of exploration.
- Manipulate an unknown substance and describe its various properties.
- Recreate the unknown substance following detailed directions.
The following ingredients will make enough "goo" for demonstration purposes for eight students. The ingredients will need to be adjusted for each class size.
- One aluminum pie plate per group of four students
- mixing spoon
- food coloring (any color)
- One (16 oz/454 g) box of cornstarch per eight students
- butcher paper to record results for class (one large piece per group)
- markers to write on the butcher paper
- measuring cup
- One large mixing bowl
- Story about the "goo" (PDF)
- Properties Data Chart (PDF)
- Hand lotion
The following ingredients will make enough "goo" for demonstration purposes for ten students. The ingredients will need to be adjusted for each class size.
- One pair of safety googles per student
- One snack size ziplock baggie per student
- One 6-8 oz paper cup for each student
- One plastic spoon for each student
- food coloring : red, yellow, green, blue
- One (16 oz/454 g) box of cornstarch per ten students (three boxes should be plenty for a class of 24-28 students)
- 12 1/4 Cup measuring cups
- 12 tablespoon, measuring spoons
- 12 teaspoon, measuring spoons
- 2-3 oz. of water per student (A small pitcher of water for each group works well. Any kind of container, like a one pound coffee can, will work.)
- "Goo" Recipe (PDF)
- Hand lotion (the mixture really sucks the moisture out of your hands!)
Set Up and Prepare
Instructions for each day can be found below.
Set Up and Prepare:
- Prepare the mixture about 45 minutes before the class presentation in order for it to settle properly
- Add 5-10 drops of food coloring to two cups of water. (I made my mixture brown to fit my story.) Add one box of cornstarch and swirl the bowl and contents to level. Set the bowl and contents aside for about 15 minutes so it can settle.
- Mix the ingredients with your hands to ensure an even consistency. Knead the mixture by bringing the bottom of the mixture to the top, like you would in kneading bread dough, until you have a smooth texture. (Be sure to have some hand lotion on hand, as this mixture sucks the moisture out of your skin quickly.)
- The "goo" should flow like a liquid when the bowl is tipped, but feel like a solid when touched with your finger. (Consistency should remind you of something between white school glue and tacky glue for crafts.) Add cornstarch, in small pinches, if the mixture is too runny. As the mixture sits out, it will dry out a bit, but can be reconstituted with water (add sparingly).
- Don't dispose of the "goo" down the drain in any sink. It will clog up the drains.
- Divide up the mixture and put it in the pie plates for each group of four students.
Step 1: Introduction: Read or tell a story of how you got the "goo." (See sample of story we used in our class listed under "materials" above.)
Step 2: Explain to the students that they will now investigate the properties of their "goo." Remind them that properties are the special attributes of a substance, such as smell, size, shape, sound, color, texture, and weight. Have students divide into groups of four so that they may begin examining their sample of the "goo." They are not allowed to taste the substance. All desks and surrounding areas (like the carpet) must be covered with several layers of newspaper before the investigation begins. (Dried up "goo" is easy to vacumn or sweep.)
Step 3: Introduce the Properties Data Chart to students. This is where the teacher will record all their found properties, once the class comes back as a group to share. Each group will record at least five things they feel are important to know about the substance.
Step 4: The students should consider these questions as they investigate the "goo":
- What does the "goo" look like? How does it feel?
- How does the substance behave? (Does it pour like water? A liquid Is it spongy like cake? A solid. Explain your answers.)
- Why does the "goo" act like it does?
- Does temperature effect the properties of the "goo"?
- Do other substances effect how the "goo" acts?
- What other substance does the "goo" remind you of? Why?
Step 5: After a reasonable amount of time for the investigation and the recording of findings, bring the students together to share their results. The teacher will record their findings on the large Properties Data Chart that has been prepared in advance. The students will discover the similaritites and differences of their group's findings compared to the other groups.
Day 2: A lab for 4th and 5th graders
Set Up and Prepare:
- Have all materials for the experiment set out for the students
- Run off copies of the "Goo" Recipe for the entire class
- Put out the safety googles
Step 1: Introduction: Today you will make your own "goo" and color it any color you choose. Be careful to follow directions exactly and clean up properly. Give each student a copy of the "Goo" Recipe. What kind of explorer will you be? What is your motivation for doing this lab?
Step 2: Explain to the students that they will follow the directions to make their own "goo." They should have a story in their head about how they were a famous explorer and found this amazing substance in their travels. Color the substance so it will fit with the story. Safety googles should be on at all times. Cleanliness and neatness is a necessity and will be a large part of the grade for this project. Each student should make his own goo, test it for the right consistency, put it in the plastic baggie, clean up his mess, and begin writing the rough draft of his story about "goo," or whatever he chooses to call it.
- Were the directions for the students clear?
- Were they engaged appropriately?
- Did the students enjoy the experience?
- Did the students produce the quality of work we expected?
- Did they demonstrate that they understand what properties are? (Day 1)
- Did the students have any trouble making their own "goo"? (Day 2)
- Did they demonstrate that they understand the lab procedures we've established in the first half of the year? (Day 2)
Teacher observation will determine if students
- worked cooperatively in groups
- followed directions
- recorded their findings on the worksheet
- used the steps of the Scientific Method of investigation
- cleaned their work area
- began writing rough draft of their story