This project checks all the boxes. Kids absolutely love it. Check. There’s science learning hidden inside the fun. Check. It teaches kids about the world around them. Check. Polar Oobleck is a fun activity you have to add to your day! The kids will explore the frozen oobleck iceberg as it melts around the polar animals into an ocean of play. And then you can chat about animal habitats and the impact of global warming, too!
First up before we get to the recipe and ingredients, let’s talk a little bit about the science in this fun activity.
What is Oobleck?
First, oobleck is absolutely, totally fun and kids love it. We get asked all the time to bring it to school, make it at home. And don’t think it’s just for little kids! Elementary school aged-kids love it too.
Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid, a fancy name for a material that changes viscosity (thickness) with pressure. Give it a hard push, it feels solid. Be more gentle, and it flows like a liquid. Oobleck and slime are examples of shear-thickening non-Newtonian fluids, meaning they get thicker with more pressure. Nail polish and ketchup are examples of shear-thinning non-Newtonian fluids, meaning they get thinner with pressure.
What is an Animal Habitat?
A habitat is a place an animal calls home. It fulfills all of their needs to survive, such as food, shelter, protection, and a place to raise their young. Habitats may be on land or in water. This activity focuses on the habitats in the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctica which are areas of tundra and ice caps. Tundra contains areas of permanently frozen ground called permafrost. And they’re filled with icebergs! You’ll find polar bears, orca, arctic foxes, seals, puffins, walrus, and more in the Arctic (the North pole). You’ll find penguins, whales, seals, and more in the Antarctic (the South pole). For this activity, we’ve joined the animals from both poles into one fun oobleck experiment.
What’s Happening to Icebergs on Earth? Climate Change Matters!
This is a fun sensory play activity, but the melting oobleck iceberg is also a reminder of the dwindling ice pack in the Arctic Ocean due to global warming. Every year, the temperature of our planet is a little higher than the year before. Besides just making us too hot, there are a whole lot of other problems with the earth heating up. Plants and animals are dying because their homes are disappearing. Weather patterns are getting worse, with hurricanes and deadly floods happening almost every year.
What’s Causing Our Planet to Heat Up?
Scientists have discovered that certain chemicals like CO2 in our ozone (the atmosphere surrounding the earth) trap heat in. When heat is trapped in, the earth gets warmer. Think of it like being in a greenhouse, where the sun warms the air and the glass traps the heat inside. Our earth is warming with nowhere for the heat to go, so it stays and continues to warm us up.
Now, on to the play!!!!
Polar Oobleck Experiment Supplies Needed
You’ll need a few supplies you can pick up at the grocery store or have in the kitchen cabinet. You’ll also want to pick up a set of polar animal toys. They make this activity way more fun and help the kids think through the meaning behind it.
- 3 cups corn starch
- 1 1/2 cup water
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon or whisk
- Copy weight paper
- 1 quart plastic food storage container
- 1 gallon plastic bag
- Blue food coloring
- Tray with at least a 1” lip
- Polar-themed plastic animal figures
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How to Prepare the Frozen Oobleck Mold
- Crumple up 2-4 pieces of copy weight paper and place in the bottom of the plastic food storage container. The container should be about half full of paper.
- Place the gallon-sized plastic bag inside the food container and fold the top edge over the sides of the container.
How to Make Polar Oobleck
- Pour the corn starch and water into the mixing bowl and stir until the corn starch is completely suspended in the water (you can’t see any powder). The oobleck should be about as thick as honey and will break into chunks if you put a lot of pressure on it. Add more water if too thick or corn starch if too thin.
- Pour 1/2 of the oobleck into the iceberg mold. Place in freezer and freeze until solid, about 12 hours.
- Add blue food coloring to the remaining oobleck until it is a nice ocean color. Don’t go overboard with the color though or it can stain a little.
- When ready to play, unmold the frozen iceberg from the plastic container.
How to Play with Polar Oobleck
- Cover your play surface to make cleanup easy.
- Place the frozen oobleck iceberg on a tray and pour the blue oobleck around it.
- Add polar animal figures to the tray and play!
Now’s the time to embrace the mess! Oobleck is about play and experiencing how it changes textures with pressure. This turns oobleck play into an oobleck experiment!
More Animal Activities the Kids Will Love
Have an animal lover in your life? Try one of these other fun animal activities! First up is a fun way to talk about a stinky subject. Check out the All About Animal Poop Lesson Plan.
Or have fun with Animal Track Handprints!
More Animal Activities for Kids
You and the kids will love exploring the Animal Kingdom with STEAM Explorers! You’ll find hands-on art and engineering projects like animal bots, animal track painting, and more. Delicious recipes that teach about science what you snack. Printables perfect for home or school that get kids thinking about what makes animals special. Pages to read that help kids understand how animals survive in their world and get inspired by STEM careers that work with animals. And as always, lots of fun stuff like color by coding, word searches, seek and finds, and more.
And for the first time, you can grab an awesome STEAM Explorers book in either digital or print format!