SK Students Design Their Very Own Bubble Wands and Learn About Bubbles

By Integrated Learning and Information Science Department’s Sarah Beebe and Mary Catherine Coleman
SKers spent time in ILIS classes learning about bubbles and designed their very own bubble wands! The goal of this project was for SKers to learn about how bubbles are formed, how they hold their shape, what they are made from and about the physics that govern bubble creation. Students were also introduced to 3D design and creation during their bubble exploration. At the end of the project, SKers designed their own bubble wands using a Computer Assisted Design (CAD) program called Tinkercad to create wands. Their Tinkercad files were downloaded as SVGs to be cut out of acrylic on the Glowforge laser cutter.

SKers started this project by exploring books during ILIS class time. First, we read a fun and silly book called Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy about a baby who gets trapped in a bubble and flies in the air. We had a discussion and wondered if that could really happen, and SKers all agreed that it was not possible. Next, we read a book called POP by Kimberly Bradley that teaches us that when we combine soap and water, the molecules mix and make soap film that has little to no volume, meaning it is flat. When we add volume—or blow a bubble—it creates surface tension. Surface tension is a force that causes liquids to stretch. We talked about examples and asked questions like, “Have you ever seen a bug walk on top of water? Surface tension makes that possible!” SKers learned that when water and soap stretch around the extra volume trapping the air inside, soap film stretches into a round shape because spheres are the strongest and most efficient geometric shape, and they take up the least amount of space. So, when we add volume to soap film, it stretches into a spherical shape and a perfectly round bubble is born! We asked students if they had ever seen a bubble that wasn’t a round spherical shape, and they all said no, and we wondered: if we blew bubbles out of a non-circular shaped bubble wand (like a heart or a rectangle), would bubbles still be spheres? There was no consensus, but since the book told us that all bubbles are spherical, the students figured we would have to test this theory out.

We tested out this theory by giving SK students pipe cleaners to create non-round shaped bubble wands. We made a bubble solution and went outside to test and prove that all bubbles are indeed spheres, even if they are blown from a triangle or heart or rectangle shaped bubble wand. It worked, and all of the bubbles were spherical!

The next step in this project was for SKers to create their own bubble wands using Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a free, online 3D modeling program that runs in a web browser and is a CAD tool. Tinkercad has an easy learning curve, making it fun for SKers to learn about 3D design. Tinkercad was designed for education and is often used by teachers and students to create 3D designs and electronics simulations. In Tinkercad, students used the “Scribble” tool. The Scribble tool allows students to draw in 3D, so they were able to design their own bubble wand in any shape/style they chose.

When students were done with their design, their files were downloaded into the Glowforge software, and their bubble wands were cut from acrylic sheets in the Glowforge laser cutter. Students observed the transfer and cutting process. Once their designs were completed, SKers got their wand and tested it out by blowing bubbles with their new wands on the Kovler Family Library deck. Then, they got to take their bubble wands home!

Click here for photos from the experience.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.