Frozen Bubbles Experiment Pops with Delight

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On Jan. 8, Rushmore Avenue students in Alice LaPoma’s third-grade class walked into their classroom expecting nothing more than a typical winter day. To their surprise, they were instead greeted with instructions to keep their coats on and to immediately begin reading an article titled “Frozen Bubbles.” The science behind the request: They were about to embark on an investigative activity that turned a freezing climate into a memorable learning experience.

“The experiments discussed in the article were performed at a temperature of minus 10 degrees,” said LaPoma. “We used a number line to discuss that our experiment would take place in the current temperature of 9 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Each student was then asked to form a hypothesis of what they predicted would be observed when a bubble wand was dipped into the solution and held in the air. During the experiment, small, traditional plastic bubble wands and a larger 16-centimeter wand, created from a metal clothing hanger, were used.

“The students discovered that the water in the bubble solution began to freeze across the bubble film,” said LaPoma. “They were able to witness the tessellation of crystal patterns quickly forming as the solution chilled in the frigid temperature. It then froze to a solid and cracked, creating leathery pieces which then fell like confetti.”

“It was a classic example of how a person can make a seemingly adverse situation into something positive and productive,” said principal Susan Folkson. “Not only did Alice turn the polar vortex that we were experiencing around for the better, she gave her students a lesson they won’t soon forget.”