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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.

SSAMMS_EP02_CrazyPutty.JPG

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

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


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Comments

  1. Apis says:

    Great video!

    It would be nice to also have a more technical explanation. Eg what chemicals and chemical reaction is involved and so on. (Especially since they don’t sell borax where I live, it’s hard to know what to substitute with unless one knows what to look for!)

  2. volkemon says:

    @Apis-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borax

    And should that link not work..

    “”
    Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. It is usually a white powder consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.

    Borax has a wide variety of uses. It is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. It is also used to make buffer solutions in biochemistry, as a fire retardant, as an anti-fungal compound for fiberglass, as an insecticide, as a flux in metallurgy, a texturing agent in cooking, and as a precursor for other boron compounds.

    The term borax is used for a number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content, but usually refers to the decahydrate. Commercially sold borax is usually partially dehydrated.

    The word borax is from Persian and originates in the Middle-Persian būrak.
    “”

    1. Apis says:

      Thank you, I should have thought of checking with Wikipedia. :)

      Is this the same compund as white school glue?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_acetate

      “Under alkaline conditions, boron compounds, such as boric acid or borax causes the polymer to cross-link forming tackifying precipitates or slime.”