Make Silly Putty
Activity Type: STEM Science
Learn about polymers. Learn about the popular toy Silly Putty (a polymer) and make some silly putty with glue and liquid starch.
About Silly Putty
- Silly Putty is one of the best selling toys in history.
- Silly Putty was invented by accident during World War II when the government was looking for alternatives for synthetic rubber.
- Silly Putty was packaged in plastic eggs because it was released to the market around Easter.
- Silly Putty is a liquid/solid because it can bounce, shatter, or stretch depending on how it’s being manipulated.
- Silly Putty is a hit with kids because it can lift pictures and words off newsprint and be stretched to form funny shapes.
- Give each child a small paper bowl.
- Pour 1/4 cup (or your preferred amount) of Elmer’s Glue All (*be sure to use this brand) into each bowl.
- Allow each child to add 3 or 4 drops of food coloring into the glue and then mix it up with a plastic spoon. Add more food coloring for a brighter color.
- Pour 1/4 cup (or an equal part as the glue) of Purex Sta-Flo Liquid Starch (*be sure to use this brand) and stir.
- Let sit for about 5 minutes.
- Place the silly putty on a paper plate or piece of wax paper and knead the substance for 5 minutes.
- Now you’re ready to play!
- Roll into a ball and bounce.
- Flatten on newsprint and see the picture appear on the silly putty.
- Pull it apart quickly and see how it rips apart into 2 pieces without stretching.
How Does It Work?
- Elmer’s glue has an ingredient called polyvinyl acetate. Polyvinyl acetate is a polymer.
- A polymer is a chemical compound that is made of small molecules that are arranged in a chain-like structure to form a larger molecule.
- When you mix the glue and starch, the starch molecules create links between the polyvinyl acetate molecules. As this continues to occur, the mixture turns into a new polymer substance.
- Silly Putty can behave like a solid or a liquid depending on how it is handled.
2 Stars = $.50 - $1.00 per project
3 Stars = more than $1.00 per project
2 Stars = Moderate (Possible Assist K-2, No Assist 3-5)
3 Stars = Hard (Assist K-2, Possible Assist 3-5)
Time to Complete
Meets Common Core Standards:
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.