Today my son participated in his 3rd Grade Economics Fair. As part of his Social Studies Economics Unit, he had to developed a product to sell to his classmates. Coming from a family that cooks, his first thought was to bake a batch of Poke Ball cookies. This would surely have produced some successful merchandise, but no edible items were allowed. Continuing with the recipe concept, he contemplated other items that we cook up in our home such as oobleck and play dough. After a few test batches, he decided to create homemade silly putty which is sometimes called gak, slime, goo or flubber.
My son made his silly putty using Elmer's glue and Borax and guidelines that we adapted from the website Steve Spangler Science. The process of watching a liquid turn into a solid never ceases to be amazing for children and adults. At first it seemed like he just had a bowl of murky water, but with the addition of dissolved Borax, the molecules began to form polymers and slime emerged. This recipe is also perfect for experimentation. With each batch my little Scientist introduced a new variable. He used both white and gel glue, added more and less water, and created a variety of colors. As a teacher and a mom, I was thrilled to see my child doing homework that was challenging, educational, and enjoyable.
One of the guidelines for creating the products was that the cost for purchasing materials was not to exceed $15. We already had a box of Borax, so we just needed to buy glue and containers. We found the perfect little bowls in Walmart and even used a coupon to further reduce our cost. My son then labeled the Ziploc bowls with his product name "Max Gax" and created a sign.
At the Economics Fair the excitement was palpable as each child set up their own station and prepared to both buy and sell. The students gathered the currency of the day which was play money called "Star Bucks" that they had earned over the past few months. The array of goods being offered was incredibly impressive and the entire event was well-organized and meaningful. In addition to product development the children also gained first hand experience concerning marketing, budgeting, and sales.
My son's homemade silly putty was a huge success! His "Max Gax" sold out quickly. He was a friendly salesman who was able to make change and answer questions about his product. He also got to buy lots of other unique items such as origami stars, book marks, trading cards, fun soap, and backpack tags. Some of his creative friends offered services such as face painting and hair coloring. Overall the project was a huge success and I am so grateful for all of the Social Study teachers that organized this event. The learning that occurred was unmeasurable and we are already planning a summer play date where we can create more goo using this recipe.
GAK Recipe (a.k.a. Goo, Slime, Silly Putty, Flubber)
8 ounce bottle of Elmer's White School Glue
8 ounces of warm water
1 teaspoon of Borax
1/2 cup of warm water
plastic bowls, spoons, and air tight containers
- Empty all of the glue into a bowl.
- Fill the empty glue bottle with warm water. Screw the top back onto the glue bottle and shake vigorously.
- Pour the glue-water from the glue bottle into the bowl with the glue and mix well.
- Add food coloring to glue mixture and stir.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup add 1 teaspoon Borax and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir until Borax is dissolved.
- Slowly add the Borax water into the glue water while gently stirring. When solid clumps start to form mix with hands until all water has been incorporated and a mass of slime has formed.
- Store in an air-tight container.
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