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Bubble Prints

In this activity, students capture bubble outlines on paper by blowing bubbles dyed with food colouring. 

Bubbles are temporary structures, but we can capture their shapes and patterns on paper if we give them some colour.

When you add paint or food colouring to bubble solution, the dyes bind to the water molecules.

If you pop a dyed bubble against paper (or your clothes—be careful!), the bubble deposits the water and dyes onto the paper’s surface.

Even after the water has evaporated, the dyes will remain, so you can examine the beautiful patterns at your leisure. 

Objectives

  • Make a bubble and understand its structure.

Materials

  • Per Bubble Colour Station:
    water
    dish soap
    food colouring
    small bowl, plate or cake tin
    newspapers to cover desks under Colour Stations

    Teacher Tip: we recommend 4–6 Colour Stations per Class

  • Per Student:
    1 straw
    1 white construction paper or card for printing

Key Questions

  • What patterns do you notice in your bubble print?

What To Do

Preparation

  1. Cover tables you’ll be using with old newspapers.
  2. Mix a few drops of dish soap with water in each bowl.
  3. Add food colouring—you’ll need a lot to make the bubble print bright.

Activity

  1. Using a straw, blow bubbles into the coloured bubble mixture until the bubbles form a structure above the rim.
  2. Lay a sheet of white paper across the rim, and lift the paper off after a second or two. The bubbles popping against the paper creates a pattern.
  3. Repeat with other colours.
  4. Let the paper dry.

Tip: If the bubbles pop too quickly, add a few tablespoons of sugar to the mixture.

Extensions

  • Students can also use their straws to blow bubbles directly onto the paper. The paper can either be flat on the table, or taped to a wall/easel, with newspaper on the floor underneath.
  • Bubble solution tinted with food colouring or paint will be colourful, but when you blow a bubble, the colour won’t show because the bubble contains very little water. To create a brightly-coloured, free-floating bubble, dye molecules must bond to the soap molecules.
  • Explore and compare Crayola® coloured bubbles and Zubbles®, bubble solutions that use this kind of dye and compare them to the bubbles you made with food colouring.