Museum of Science, Boston

Books for Kids

  • 200 Gooey, Slippery, Slimy, Weird & Fun Experiments
    , by
    Janice VanCleave
  • Chemistry (DK Eyewitness Books)
    , by
    Ann Newmark

Contact Us

Contact the Discovery Center and Living Lab staff at livinglab@mos.org

April 2010: Slime Chemistry

Slime Chemistry

Chemists are scientists that study what objects are made of and how different chemical materials interact with each other. Chemists study different types of chemicals and try putting them together with other chemicals to see if a change occurs. Then they try to figure out what the new materials can do, and brainstorm ways people can use them in their lives.

Chemistry is everywhere! We are chemists everyday when we cook, clean or wash our hands. Our body “does chemistry” all the time as we digest food or distribute oxygen throughout our bodies!

The Slime Chemistry activity in the Discovery Center exposes children to the tools, methods and questions used by chemists in order to help them understand how these scientists find out about the world.

Discovery Center visitors are invited to become chemists by creating their own slime. They begin by exploring two chemical solutions and mixing them together, then they study the ‘slime-y’ result. Young chemists can experiment with their ‘slime’ and think about how this new substance is different from the two chemical solutions they began with.

Chemistry at Home

Continue your Slime Chemistry explorations at home by

Conducting your own ‘slime chemistry’ experiments

Create your own slime at home with this recipe:

1. Mix 1 cup of Elmers© White Glue All and 1 cup of cold water in a bowl.

2. In a second bowl, dissolve 1 Tablespoon of Borax in 1 cup of hot water.

3. Combine the two mixtures together with your child by stirring with a spoon or your hands. Let the slime sit for a few minutes.

4. Explore your new material by playing with it!

Things to think about while you experiment:

•What do chemists do?

•What tools do chemists use?

•What chemicals did you use to make slime?

•What happens when you mix the two liquid chemicals together?

•Does slime bounce?

•Can you stretch, roll or cut slime?

The Science of Slime

Polymers are large, long molecules made up of many smaller molecules, or monomers, in a repeating chain. Elmer’s Glue All © is a type of linear polymer called “polyvinyl acetate”, which is made of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.

Borax (the special soap that is our second chemical) is a mineral, made of “sodium borate” monomers in a crystalline structure, which is ground into a powder.

Since both the borax and the glue are first mixed with water, when you combine the two, they interact through hydrogen (water) bonding. The glue and the borax mix together to create the slime, which is a matrix polymer, rather than a linear polymer (e.g. glue alone).

A linear polymer is like fresh cooked pasta: each noodle is separate from the other, and when you go to dump it out of the container, the pasta does not hold the container shape. A matrix polymer is like left over pasta: when you take it out of the container it has the shape of the container, with the noodles all stuck to each other.

Check out this website to learn more about polymers and monomers!