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Mentoring Moments

Oobleck—The Deceiving Solid/Liquid

Illustration Information
Oobleck—The Deceiving Solid/Liquid
Put together by Uncle Steve Severance with information and ideas obtained from the following sites:
Adapted from two other websites and Idea & Lesson Exchance
Submitted By
Uncle Steve Severance
Submitted On
June 17, 2009
Last Modified
June 17, 2009

Looks can indeed be deceiving. Here's a liquid that sometimes acts like a solid!

Items needed:


• 1/2 cup Measuring cup

• Mixing bowl

• Cornstarch

• Water

• Mixing spoon

• Food coloring

• Wet wipes

How to make it:

Measure 1 ½ cups of cornstarch and put in a pie pan or container. If you want a color of Oobleck add the coloring to the water first. Then gradually add approximately ½ cup of water to the cornstarch. Stir well (this will take some time). Add small amounts of more water or cornstarch until you get a mixture which 'tears' when you quickly scrape your finger through it AND THEN 'melts' back together again.

How Does It Work?

Oobleck is often referred to as a 'non-Newtonian' substance because it does not behave as Newton's Third Law of Motion states; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Applying this principle, you would expect Oobleck to 'splash' when you 'smack' it with your hand. (Smacking is the action, splashing is the reaction.) However, when you try this out. Oobleck does not splash, in fact, it becomes a solid substance for a few moments. Why? Scientists explain this as follows. Uncooked corn starch particles are structured in both crystalline and noncrystalline arrangements. When slowly mixed with water, the non crystalline structures of corn starch absorb most of the water. When you smack or stir it rapidly, you increase the temperature and pressure on the mixture which causes more non crystalline structures to form. These new noncrystalline structures absorb more water and the mixture becomes thicker:hence the appearance of a solid. When you discontinue the pressure, the number of noncrystalline structures decrease and water is released, creating the 'soupy' mixture. (this is taken from Thanks!)


Investigate the properties of this substance. (It is safe to handle but not safe to eat or get in your eyes!) Is this substance a solid or a liquid? Go ahead, pick it up. Squeeze some in your hands. What happens?

Lesson: Say: This is a strange substance. It acts like a liquid and yet it when compressed it seems like a solid. It’s a case where looks can be deceiving.


What are some temptations in your life that might look harmless but really aren’t?


What tempts you the most?


What can you start doing to stay away from wrongdoing?


The serpent tempted Eve with fruit. Do you think Eve might have thought, “It looks ok; a little bite couldn’t hurt.”


Are there temptations in your life that seem harmless?

• Watching TV that goes against the Bible

• Telling a little lie to your mom or dad to keep out of trouble

• Peeking at dirty pictures on the internet

• Snatching a pack of gum from the checkout stand