The 90’s STEM throwback you AND your kids will love

Education |  2 min. read

So it’s winter.  It’s cold.  It’s snowy.  It’s wet.  Nobody wants to go out.

(You can stop now, if you live in San Diego – but for most of us, read on.)

You could park the kids in front of a big screen, or a little one;  but no, you know they get enough of that anyhow.

What to do?  Make gak!

If you were a Nickelodeon watcher in the ‘90s, you know where this goes.  If not, we’ve got something for you at the end – but don’t skip ahead!  First, with the help of our friends at Valero, we’re going to tell you (and your kids) how to make gak.

What you need:

  • A measuring cup
  • White glue (1 ½ cups worth)
  • Liquid starch (not melted pasta, the stuff you use on laundry. Supermarkets have it.)
  • A rubber spatula or spoon.
  • (Some) water.
  • A mixing bowl big enough to hold all that.
  • A drinking straw.

What you do:

  • Pour that 1 ½ cups of glue in the bowl.
  • Add a little starch, and mix.
  • Add a little water, and mix.
  • Alternate adding a little more starch, and a little more water, until you’ve got a solid blob in the bowl.
  • That’s gak!

What you do next:

  • Take your gak (yeah, you made it, you own it) out of the bowl.
  • Put the straw in the gak and blow.
  • Watch ENORMOUS bubbles appear (if white bubbles aren’t your thing, you can add food coloring back when you’re mixing in the starch and water, and have bubbles your way).

(And if you’re the visual learner-type, here’s a quick video how-to:)

Wondering about the STEM angle to gak? Here’s the science (straight from the lab at Valero):

“Under a powerful microscope, you can see that good old white glue is made up of millions of strands of molecules all linked together like chains. It’s a petroleum-based goop we call a linear polymer. When liquid starch is mixed into the glue, a chemical reaction occurs as it connects to those long strands of glue molecules, taking on the qualities of a cross-linked polymer that we call gak.”

And if Nickelodeon and gak didn’t mean anything to you, here’s what that was all about:

(Photo from Nickelodeon)


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