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We’re excited to bring to you the second episode in our special summer kids video miniseries, Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show!

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube, Blip.tv, and Vimeo.

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By James (TechNinja) and Sylvia

Did you know that you can have fun making extended polymer chains at home with household chemicals? You bet you can! Today we’re going to make “Crazy Putty!”

For this super squishy build, we’ll need:

  • At least 4oz of white school glue (not the washable kind)
  • A measuring cup
  • Borax (used for cleaning)
  • 2 bowls for mixing
  • And some food coloring if you want it to look cool.

First, put one cup of water in a bowl, then add in 1 teaspoon of borax (be careful not to get any in your eyes — wear safety goggles), stirring till it dissolves completely. Next, take 4 oz of glue and mix it with a half cup of water in the other bowl. If you want super-awesome color putty, add the dye to the glue and water now. When it all looks ready, you can slowly pour the borax solution into the glue, and watch as it thickens up immediately before your eyes.

The glue is what’s called a polymer. Polymers are like a bunch of tiny chains inside the glue that keep it from flowing like a regular liquid, and help it stick to things. When you mix in the borax, it acts like a linker, connecting and extending all the little polymer chains of glue to form a bunch of much longer chains. Cool!

All this chain lengthening stiffens the glue and water mix, and makes it much harder to move around. It makes it almost not a liquid anymore, though it will melt if you leave it alone long enough.

Try experiment with changing the glue-to-borax ratio — try freezing it, or letting it melt through stuff. Just make sure to not get it in your hair, clothing, or on carpet! Have fun and remember, get out there and make something!

About the authors:

Super Awesome Sylvia and her dad (the TechNinja) are two born and bred makers, living in Northern California. Sylvia enjoys drawing, reading (Harry Potter, Calvin & Hobbes and anything else she can get her hands on), building robots, doing science experiments, and watching MythBusters. Her dad enjoys all that, too, and is currently a freelance programmer and video editor/compositor. Sylvia’s dream is to one day get into MIT like Ladyada.

If you want to buy a t-shirt to support her dream, check out Sylvia’s designs.

And don’t forget to check out all the big episodes of Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show.

More:

Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Rockets

becky-stern-headshot

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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