Sticky, Oozy, Science-y Fun

At the art table, second-graders (from left) Audrey Vanderhorst, Laila McDowell, Cooper Sarver and Caleb Shepherd reacted clearly to feeling the mixture

Countryside Elementary School second-grader Addison Gearhart sunk her feet into the watery cornstarch inside a plastic kiddie pool and took a couple steps.

“It felt squishy, and when I walked on it, it was a solid,” she said afterward.

Abstract ooze monsters take many forms, as illustrated by second-grader Lucy Marczuk

Students participated in a messy experiment in their schoolyard, demonstrating an anomaly when it comes to the properties of matter they learn in second-grade science class.

They created “ooze” or “oobleck” — known to science-y types as a non-Newtonian fluid — by dumping cornstarch into water.

The substance changes from liquid to solid form when pressure is applied, a transformation students tested by squeezing it in their hands and walking through the pool.

“It will change from a liquid to a solid without temperature,” said Kelly Behrens, a science, technology, engineering and math teacher.

Second-grader Tessa McGowan is sticky but still smiling following the experiment

Behrens and art teacher Rachael Ambroso joined forces to teach students about the perplexing substance and show its connections to art and science. Students plopped the ooze on paper to create abstract art by outlining the resulting shapes in crayon to make monsters.

Second-grader Tessa McGowan not only experimented with the ooze, but ended up covered in it, from head to bare toes. “It’s really sticky,” she said.

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SNN story on BC STEM class

Countryside Elementary students prepare to create a unique substance that defies normal properties of matter
Science, technology, engineering and math teacher Kelly Behrens and students dump cornstarch into water
Students mix up “ooze” with their hands
Oobleck turns from liquid to solid when pressure is applied
Griffin Wernet walks through the ooze
Connor DeVito outlines his abstract ooze monster
Second-grader Addison Gearhart takes her turn
“Squish!”
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. Besides covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network, she writes freelance for the travel industry. Read Erin's full bio

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