Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Homeschool Science: Ack! It's Gak!

In other words, we love ourselves some polymers.

I've been wanting to make gak ever since we began having so much fun with oobleck, but even though borax lives in the grocery store, you would not believe how many months of regular shopping trips it took me to finally happen upon it. Don't be stubbon like me--just ask someone. Ask someone old enough not to look at you blankly when you say "borax" to them.

You will need:
  • borax. Seriously, just ask.You only need 1/2 teaspoon of borax, but the store will make you buy an entire freaking box of it. Fortunately, borax is an excellent natural cleaner, and I've been using mine for laundry, on the bathtub, etc.
  • 4 oz. bottle of Elmer's glue. I bought an absurd number of these glue bottles during the very good back-to-school sales, and they've been serving me well since.
  • warm water, like warm from the tap, not warm from the teakettle.
  • food coloring. It's fun.
1. Empty the entire 4 oz. bottle of glue into a mixing bowl:
The kiddos had trouble getting every last bit of glue out of the bottle, but the rest of the steps were no problem.

2. Fill the bottle back up with warm water from the tap, screw the lid on, shake it like a Polaroid picture, then take the cap back off and pour the warm glue-water into the bowl with the glue.

3. Find a cup or another small container, pour another 1/4 cup of warm water into it, then pour in 1/2 teaspoon of borax and stir to dissolve it.

4. Dump the borax water into the glue water and stir like mad for the precious few seconds that you'll have until the borax causes the glue molecules to link together in long chains. When that happens, you'll want to start kneading the mixture with your hands until it's an even consistency:
And then you play and play and play:
The gak is vastly less messy than oobleck, but it's still fascinating on a tactile level. The babes squished it and mooshed it and tore it and slammed it and stuffed into containers and unstuffed it and sculpted with it and spelled with it:
And then they put it in a Ziplock bag so that they can do it all again later.


Heather said...

I gotta try this!!

julie said...

You will NOT regret it. I'm thinking of throwing another Halloween party for the girls this year, but instead of candy projects, I think we'll do Halloweeny science projects like this one. Parents will likely thank me, until we get to the oobleck.

Tina said...

Just made this (and the oobleck) tonight with my daughter and 3 nephews. They loved it!! We plan to include the Gak in the goody bags for my oldest nephews birthday party this weekend. Should be fun!

julie said...

Oh, fun! I had a children's Halloween party and the main activity was making gak--the children were all absolutely THRILLED by the experience, and they took their own gak home, too.

Nancy said...

My husband uses Oobleck in his 7/8 grade classroom for both science and language arts. I'll encourage him to try gak, too. Thanks for the tip!