Friday, January 21, 2011

GAK: an Integrated science, math and technology lesson

     I haven't made gak all year.  How did that happen?  Gak has been a staple in my classroom since 1998 since I was introduced to it at the Cooperative Children's Center in Seattle. Yet, here it is, almost February and my students haven't touched the magical stuff.
     I had promised myself and a student that I would make it this week, and by Thursday we'd had a holiday (Thank you MLKJr!), a tired day (thanks to a busy weekend, and a board meeting) a late start (no thanks to you icy roads) and then it was Thursday AM, my chosen mobile mac lab morning.  So- I had a choice, mac lab or GAK?

Well, I decided on a whim to combine them.  Usually I have 23 kids, usually I have a high-school aide or a volunteer at 10 am.  Well, this day I had 11 kids absent thanks to many viruses and bacteria floating around our school.  And my student helper was not available.  So, I decided I could handle a science lesson, 12 kiddos AND the mac lab on my own.  Was I crazy?  No.  It went great, or well as great as any activity with 5&6 year olds can go.  I introduced the materials, water, borax, and glue.  I asked the kids about the substances and we discussed whether any of them could be played with.

I asked the kids to go to their computers and log on, then go to Pages and type up a prediction of what would happen when we combined the materials.  Most predictions were that it would be gooey, sticky, gross or even explode!  (I bet he thought the borax was baking soda and maybe we would make a volcano.  Or he didn't trust my science abilities.  When we cooked gingerbread cookies I did set off the fire alarm and caused an unplanned K-12 fire drill.)

Then, I began to measure out the materials and we combined them (letting the kids help).  They watched in amazement as solid and liquid and heat caused a chemical reaction to make a new substance. 

Then, I of course let them play with the amazing blobs of gak.  Afterward, they added what gak really felt like to their documents and took a picture using Photo booth of them with their gak.  (I actually clicked their photo as I didn't want gak on the keyboards- too risky)

We had fun; we did science, math, and used technology all in one hour and it was relatively painless!

I challenge you to share one of your great but simple lessons with me now!

For those of you who haven't experienced GAK yet (really???)  add literature to the lesson and read Dr. Seuss' Bartholomew and the Oobleck- it's really not gak in the story but close enough.  Oobleck receipe first (no heat necessary)  It also acts like a liquid until pressure is applied.  It is messier than the gak though, really.

Oobleck Ingredients:

Gloopy oobleck
Most liquids' viscosity changes because of temperature. But non-Newtonian fluids' viscosity changes because of pressure. Scientists haven't decided yet what makes oobleck behave like this.

Gak Receipe

Mix thoroughly in bowl A
In a bowl B, mix thoroughly:
  • 1 1/3 cups very warm water
  • 2 level teaspoons Borax
Mix the contents of the two bowls together kneading until it is fully combined. Discard any remaining liquid.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! Great idea. I'm sure the kids had fun while learning. Science, math and technology lesson all in one. Thanks for sharing. :)


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