The bubble experiment is a bust

Way back when we were still sort of working with a curriculum, Maya and I would periodically try a “science” experiment.  We had – and probably still do have, if I look in the far reaches of my closet – several books containing “fun and easy” science projects.

As long as you didn’t interpret “fun and easy” to mean “successful” I suppose they were right.

In one, which was to demonstrate how salt will temporarily melt ice before it refreezes, we were told to float an ice cube in a cup of cold water, then drape a few inches of string across the top of the cup so that one end was laying on the ice cube.   Then sprinkle the ice with a little salt, wait a few minutes and when you come back, the string will be frozen to the top of the ice cube and you’ll be able to lift the cube out of the cup with the string.

Pretty neat, right?

Except that when we came back after a few minutes, the entire ice cube had melted and the string was sinking to the bottom of the cup of water.

And so it went.  The only “science” experiment we ever did that succeeded (and trust me, we tried more than a few) was the one where you put water in the bottom of a bucket and then swing it around in a circle – the water doesn’t fall out due to gravity forces.    Every other single thing we tried was a massive failure.

After a while it became a running joke.   Thank goodness, because if Maya had any interest in becoming a scientist it might have been just a little discouraging.    What was it that Edison said?  He didn’t fail, he just found hundreds of ways not to make a lightbulb.   The difference being no one had ever made a lightbulb before.  It’s not like someone handed Edison a book titled “Fun and Easy Ways to Make a Lightbulb” and then it took him like a thousand tries to make one that worked.

No, that would have been us.

So I’m not sure why I thought this whole frozen bubble experiment would work.   Had history taught me nothing?   Maybe I was duped by the fact that it wasn’t presented as a science experiment.  Yes, that must have been it.   This was just a fun activity that anyone could do!  All you needed was below freezing temperatures and some homemade bubble formula.   What could be easier?

A friend of mine posted the article that started it all, and this morning I rolled Ben out of bed so that we could go out and create some magic of our own.  Yes, the woman who took the photos in the article was a professional photographer, so I wasn’t expecting to match the artistry of her photos, but all they did was go out and blow bubbles on a cold morning.  I was fairly certain we could get some cool shots of our own.

Want to see the one and only photo of the one and only frozen bubble we managed to produce?  Here it is:

It’s about 1/2 inch in diameter and flew off the bubble wand after the larger bubbles wafted off in the wind to burst and leave no trace of their existence.

Not exactly what I had in mind.

We tried again 5 hours later.   This is what happened:

As we stood there in the 8 degree temps, trying to find a spot near our building with no wind (because I decided it was the wind’s fault this wasn’t working), it suddenly hit me.   This is a “fun and easy” science experiment!!  It’s straight out of one of those books I still have lurking around our apartment.    We were just fooled by the casual, non-scientific presentation.

The best shots I got all day were inside.  Between outdoor outings we tested the bubble solution.  It worked fine.

Of course, because of the photography element, I am probably going to try the frozen bubble thing again.  On a day with no wind.  Using, maybe, an industrial strength bubble solution (if I can find one).

Hope, I guess, really does spring eternal.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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