This article first appeared in Make: Volume 41.
This article first appeared in Make: Volume 41.

Oobleck is a delightful non-Newtonian fluid that exists as a liquid under low-stress situations, but becomes more viscous when agitated, either by hands or by vibrations. Named after a fictional green precipitation in a Dr. Seuss book, the substance is fun on its own, but you can add more awesome by making it glow (with highlighter dye, under a black light) and making it perform (by placing it on a speaker). You’ll be amazed as it assembles itself into abstract patters and creature-like forms!

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Project Steps

Extract highlighter dye

Cut open the bottom of the highlighter using the cutting pliers.

Put on the rubber gloves, remove the ink cartridge, and cut it open straight down the middle, from top to bottom, using the box cutter.

Remove and squeeze the spongy material from the top down to drain all the ink out of it.

Mix and pour

Make the oobleck by mixing the cornstarch with water in a ratio of 2 parts cornstarch, 1 part water.

Add the highlighter dye. Adjust the ratio until it’s runny but tough to mix.

Cover the subwoofer tightly with plastic wrap, using tape to anchor it to the bottom. The tighter the wrap, the better the results.

Pour the oobleck onto the plastic wrap.

Play tones

Hook up the subwoofer to your computer and experiment with playing different frequencies to find the sweet spot. We noticed interesting activity in the 20Hz–60Hz range.

Turn off the lights and turn on your black light.

Watch the effects on the oobleck as it takes on lifelike qualities, assembling itself into interesting patterns and abstract, creature-like forms.