Check out this fun ‘Bubble Construction Design Challenge’ activity from Family Science & Engineering!

We have officially entered summer! Yippee! The summer solstice arrived officially at 8:31 PM (PT) on Sunday, June 20. (Check out some fun facts and folklore about the summer solstice.) Time for some fun, summer-related science & engineering activities!

When I think about summer, one of the first fun activities that comes to mind are bubbles! Try out the following design challenge adapted from our book, Family Science. This activity involves some prep, but it is so worth it — give it try!

You’ll need:

  • Scissors
  • Large plastic trash bag
  • Paper towels or several terry towels
  • Water
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Empty gallon milk jug (or similarly sized container)
  • Ruler
  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • Plastic bowl or tray
  • Copy of “Bubble Construction Chart
  • Tool construction supplies (string, chenille stems, foil, stiff paper, cardboard, recycled containers, straws, paper/plastic cups, etc.)
  • Pencil
  • Paper
Here’s what you do:
Prepare the Construction Site

  • Make a large table cover by cutting the side seams of a trash bag. Open it flat. Wipe the table with a damp paper towel, and then spread the cover over the damp area.
  • Mix a bubble solution by combining 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 cup of water. To make a larger amount, pour 2/3 cup of liquid dish soap into an empty gallon milk jug, and then fill with water. Mix the solution by stirring slowly. Try to keep bubbles and foam from forming on the surface.
  • Cut the cardboard box into sections about 6 by 8 inches (15 by 20 centimeters). Make one for each person. You will use the cardboard as squeegees to clear extra liquid away from the work area.
  • Have sheets of a roll of paper towels nearby to soak up spills or to blot an area dry. Plain vinegar also works well to break down the soap and help clean off the work surface.
  • Put supplies and tools in the center of the work area. Pour a small amount of bubble solution into a bowl or tray.

Bubble Production

  • Distribute one Bubble Construction Chart to each explorer or team. (Keep your chart on a separate, dry surface while you test your bubble production tools.)
  • Each individual or team then selects one of the bubble products to produce. Next, design a tool that will produce the bubble product, and then record their method for others to follow.
  • Choose the type of materials needed to construct the tool.
  • Assemble and test the tool until the tool produces consistent results. Remember, the goal is to produce a bubble product as described on the construction chart.
  • Once you have perfected your method, write step-by-step directions to explain how to produce your bubble product. Give the directions to someone else or another team. Do they get the same results?
  • Continue the design and production of the other bubble products. Fill in the chart while you work.