(Intermediate): Build a Better Bubble!

Time Required: Two 45-60 minute session
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Grades: 3rd to 5th

"Bubbles are everywhere," according to Mathematician, Frank Morgan, who discovered the "Double Bubble" conjecture. In this experiment, students will engineer a new design for  3 unique bubble wands, as well as alter the bubble mixture in order to determine how shape, surface area and pressure relate to the science of bubbles.

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Lesson Plan


Step 1

Have a bowl of tap water ready for each group.
Have a 1/4 cup of liquid soap ready for each group.
Printout Build a Better Bubble Resource for each group before class.

Step 2

Whole group: Brainstorm and record what students think they know about bubbles.

Step 3

Ask what bubble mixtures are made from. *Hand-washing detergent or liquid soap and water.

Step 4

Ask students what a bubble is. *A thin sphere of liquid that encloses gas.

Step 5

Ask students where bubbles can be found. (Possible answers: soda pop, ocean waves, bubble wrap, mouth/saliva, bubbles in a volcano, etc.)

Step 6

Differentiate between various types of bubbles and those created at home or school with liquid soap and water.

Step 7

Remind students of Dr. Morgan's comments about bubbles being everywhere, e.g., in bread, which makes it fluffy, mattresses to make them supportive and fire extinguishers to create pressure. Ask: Do you think all bubbles are shaped the same?

Step 8

Share the Challenge: Students will be working in small groups to design 3 different types of bubble wands and bubble mixtures to (a) increase their knowledge about bubbles and (b) solve three unique selected challenges.

Step 9

Share possible bubble challenges. Design three different wands and a bubble mixture that produces: a) the longest-lasting bubbles. b) the weirdest shaped bubbles. c) the bounciest bubbles or (d) a *Double Bubble. An additional challenge could be to create a cube-shaped wand, observe and report on what happens when used.
Note that students will select 3 challenges to attempt with their group. If they choose the Double Bubble, they must also answer Dr. Morgan's related question listed on the Build a Better Bubble sheet.

Step 10

Model how to create stencils for bubble wands, using pencil and paper. Demonstrate how to trace over lines with 3Doodler. *See Appendix.

Step 11

Demonstrate how to record observational notes on the Build a Better Bubble sheet.

Step 12

Discuss using eyedroppers and spoons to measure and record amounts of liquids used on the Build a Better Bubble sheet.

Step 13

Divide students into groups of 3-4 students. Hand out paper, pencils, 3Doodlers, liquid soap, spoons, eyedroppers, water and bowls.

Wrap Up

Students share their notes from their group's Build a Better Bubble sheet, present their wands and mixtures to class. Discuss what went well and what could be improved. Share on Twitter #3DoodlerEDU


Review students' Build a Better Bubble sheets, wands and mixtures. Assess their presentations and feedback during discussions.

Possible Extensions

Students will use what they learned in this lesson to improve their bubble wands and mixtures and then present them to peers, once again. Students research bubbles in nature and write nonfiction essay. Bubbles in Nature


Bubble Worksheet

Group Member's Names: ________________________________________

Bubble Wand Challenges: My group would like to design 3 different bubble wands to attempt to solve the following three challenges. Circle three selections.
a) the longest-lasting bubble, b) the weirdest shaped bubble, c) the bounciest bubble, d) a *Double Bubble, or e) create a cube-shaped wand.

Before the Experiment Formulate a Hypothesis: List your 3 selected bubble challenges in the first row of the table and what your group expects will happen in each box of the second row beneath it.

Bubble Mixture: Record the ingredients and amounts of water and liquid soap used. Use measurement terms, e.g., 1 teaspoon, 2 eye droppers full, or liquid measurements like 5 ounces or 1/2 cup.

After Experiment: How did each wand's design or bubble mixture affect the outcome, shape, size, longevity, bounciness, etc. of your bubbles? What worked and what could have gone better? What could you do differently next time? Answer each question below. *List the specific challenge in the first row and your responses in the row beneath it.

Dr. Frank Morgan's Double Bubble Conjecture:
Which response is correct? (a) the surface between the two bubbles is flat, (b) the big bubble pushes up into the little bubble, or (c) the little bubble pushes down into the big bubble? Explain your thinking. Did you witness anything that led you to this conclusion?


    Educational Standards

    Common Core

    Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    In This Lesson

    Students will work in small groups to select 3 challenges, design bubble wands, create bubble mixture and record observations and share them with the whole group.

    Common Core

    Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

    In This Lesson

    Students will read "Soap Bubbles and Mathematics," an article about Dr. Frank Morgan's, Double Bubble conjecture.

    Next Gen Science

    Engineering Design Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

    In This Lesson

    Students will sketch, design and create three different types of bubble wands that meet the criteria of three different challenges.

    Next Gen Science

    Engineering Design Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

    In This Lesson

    Students will test their bubbles wands and bubble mixtures, and make changes, when needed, based on how well they meet the criteria of each challenge.

    CS Teachers

    Plan and create a design document to illustrate thoughts, ideas, and stories in a sequential (step-by-step) manner (e.g., story map, storyboard, sequential graphic organizer).

    In This Lesson

    Students will create stencils that reflect their thoughts and ideas about bubble-making.

    CS Teachers

    Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

    In This Lesson

    Students will break down the process into brainstorming, designing, building, testing, presenting and making adjustments to bubble wands and mixtures.


    Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

    In This Lesson

    Students will use the 3Doodler to create bubble wands that may accomplish three selected challenges.


    Exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

    In This Lesson

    Students will demonstrate willingness and competency within an open-ended task with more than one possible outcome.


    Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

    In This Lesson

    Students will create 3 different original wands to accomplish 3 selected challenges.

    Common Core

    Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

    In This Lesson

    Students will seek feedback from peers before designing wands with 3Doodler.

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