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Activity: Making Slime

(Activity courtesy of the Inamori School of Engineering, Alfred University, Alfred, NY.)

Slime

image of slimeWould you believe that slime is a member of the Space Shuttle team? As an advanced viscoelastic material, slime is an amazingly lead-proof hydraulic fluid used in all critical positioning systems in space.

Did you know that if you hold it in your hand and tap the slime, you can feel the vibration? Slime is a great amplifier for ultrasonic contacts. Where vibration is a problem, slime can also be used in different ways to dampen the troublesome shakes.

Want to make your own slime? Here are some great recipes.

image of students and slimeElmer’s slime

  • Solution I: Mix 50 ml of Elmer’s glue in 50 ml of water.
  • Solution II: Dissolve 5 grams of Borax in 200 ml of warm water.

Mix 5 parts Solution I with 2 parts Solution II and play!

image of student with slimeA water-based slime

(PVA is available from chemical suppliers, Borax is sold in grocery stores; look for the “20 Mule Team” box).

For a whole class you need:

  • 2 liters of distilled water
  • 100 grams of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)
  • 100 ml of sodium tetraborate solution (dissolve 7.6g Borax in 100 ml warm water)

For a single recipe you need:

  • 50 ml of distilled water
  • 2 to 3 grams of PVA (slimes have different personalities, be creative!)
  • 5 ml of Borax solution (from above)

Dissolve the PVA in warm (60° C = 140° F) water while stirring for about 1 hour. Cool the solution until comfortable to the touch and add Borax solution, stirring until it gels.

Color slimes with food coloring, added before the Borax solution, or try finely crushed Styrofoam for marshmallow slime (crush several Styrofoam coffee cups to a fine powder).

Your slime needs to rest in a sealed container and prefers refrigeration, as PVA is biodegradable.

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