Learning With Bubbles!

OTTUMWA-Learning can be fun, especially if it involves bubbles.

This fall, bubbles were used to learn a variety of math and science concepts in fifth grade classrooms at Eisenhower Elementary. MariSue Blacksmith, a fifth grade teacher, has been doing Bubbleology “every year since I started teaching.” Her binder of bubble activities has grown over the years to include various experiments to support different instructional targets in science, math, and even language. “You have to be able to write and talk about your findings,” she noted. “The experience is enriched with bubbles.”

Blacksmith let her students have fun when she first introduced bubbles in science class. Then it’s down to work. “They really get down to business and realize they only have a certain amount of time to do the experiments and record their findings,” Blacksmith said.

Desktops become bubble-making surfaces. Not only do students learn complex math and science concepts, they expand their vocabulary while gaining valuable knowledge. She requires her students to use the terminology associated with the lessons when explaining their learning.

“Having fun while still learning keeps kids interested,” said Peyton Harness, a fifth grader.

The students rattled off several things they learned including measuring circumference, area, and diameter of their bubbles. Measurements are only taken once the bubbles pop. Bubbles are “something you are interested in so you want to study it,” said Xander Johnson, another student of Blacksmith’s.

Students learned to predict when their bubble would pop. According to the fifth grade experts, the bubble cycles through several colors including magenta, blue, and yellow before turning white. When it turns white, it will pop. 

The integration of bubbles resulted in “a lot of experiments,” said Lydia Roling, another student.

Students explained Bernoulli’s Equation as it relates to lift. They learned other terms of flight as well, including drag, thrust, and gravity. Balloons and hairdryers replaced the bubbles in some lessons. They even used macaroni and Sprite, resulting in bouncing macaroni, Harness shared.

“The macaroni disintegrated,” said Roling.

Johnson pulled out his journal to share the perfect ratio between soap and glycerin to make bubbles bigger. Students referred to their journal notes to share their findings. “The less drops of glycerin in the bubble solution, the bigger it gets,” said Roling. “And it also stays longer.”

Other findings included the adverse affect caused by the room air conditioner and the cheaper soap brands made more bubbles.  Students also learned tricks like placing bubbles inside bubbles and sticking objects into the bubbles. Of course, the item has to be wet or the bubble will pop, they confided. Blacksmith integrated technology by having students make commercials of their learning.

“Students really liked this,” said Harness.