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Hands-On Science Fun (while making a mess!)

California State University at Long Beach (CSULB) Latino students treated my students to some hands-on science fun.  These students have majors in science and engineering.  Check out their website (

The college students worked with our students to create a chemical reaction using household ingredients.  The resulting activity created a polymer ball (you know, those super bouncy balls!).

Hands-on science activity with chemical reactions

Students had a lot of fun but it was messy.  They did learn that when certain chemicals combine, they do have a chemical reaction.  The entire event took about 45 minutes.

What Did They in This Hands-On Science Activity?

You can have your students make their own polymer balls with the following materials.  The steps we used to make the bouncy balls follow below.

Materials or ingredients needed for the hands on science activity

Once the students were prepped about what they were going to do, the fun began!

Set up for hands-on science activity

The college students had set up each table area with two cups.  One cup had borax and water, the other water and glue.  There was another larger cup that had cornstarch that each student would add later with a spoon. Each student stirred the mixture with a craft stick.   Students added food coloring to the mixture.  Then it was time to start the hands-on science activity!

Stirring the borax in water to dissolve it

The first step is to stir the borax until it mostly dissolves.

adding corn starch to the mix

The next step is to add one spoonful of cornstarch to the glue/water mix and stir until mixed well.

Adding a few drops of food coloring

Now it is time to add food coloring to the glue/cornstarch mix.  Stir well to get it the right color.

The mixes are ready

The students then combined the mixes for a chemical reaction!

Combining the mixes

Students used the craft stick and pour the borax/water mix into the mix of glue/cornstarch.  Then they use the craft stick to stir vigorously until it begins solidifying.

Stirring until it hardens

Forming a shape with the mixture

We’re Almost There!

Once the stirring has combined the two mixes well and it is becoming solid, students take it out and begin forming a ball shape.

However, if you didn’t stir well or didn’t dissolve the borax enough, you will get a sticky mess!

If you use too much water, it's a mess!

Finally, a polymer ball!  The students took their polymer ball home in a baggie to share with their families.  Also, I took lots of pictures and videos and sent them to parents via ClassDojo Story Posts.

Final product is a polymer ball

If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and try it out!  Then, share your messy, fun hands-on science activities below!

Check Out Some More Science Articles

Read about the planet models my students made for the Planet Reports and presentations!

Check out another assembly my students were treated to by the Aquarium of the Pacific!

Don’t Go Yet!

Are you new the 1:1 classroom setting? Then you’ll want to read my Valuable Tips for the 1:1 Classroom.

Check out how I use Google Classroom to present at Back to School Night for Parents.

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Hands-On Science Fun (while making a mess!)
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