Student Projects | Project Description | Animation Process


What is Oobleck?

Oobleck is a type of non-Newtonian fluid. Most fluids we know of are considered as Newtonian fluids, but non-Newtonian fluids are a strange and perplexing group of fluids. When a force (ex. poking, rolling, stirring) is applied to a non-Newtonian fluid, the viscosity (resistance to flow) of the fluid increases. In simple terms, any force you exert on a non-Newtonian fluid will make the fluid behave more like a solid. The more force you exert, the harder the fluid becomes. Strange but true! Other types of non-Newtonian fluids include quicksand, ketchup, and blood.

Oobleck is also the name of a science lab activity the Pü`ulu Lehua students did. The students were told that there is a planet Oobleck in outer space similar to Earth except that the ocean is made of a strange substance also called Oobleck. Their job as scientists was to discover and define the properties of Oobleck.

Students kept saying that Oobleck is both a solid and liquid, but in scientific terms, it is impossible for something to be both a solid and liquid at the same time. They had to define under what conditions the Oobleck behaved like a solid versus a liquid. What the students discovered was that:

applying a constant force to the Oobleck makes it behave like a solid
when the force is stopped, Oobleck becomes liquidy again
when Oobleck is heated or frozen it will harden
hardened Oobleck will melt and mix with regular Oobleck and turn back to normal
Oobleck dissolves in water
fast movements through Oobleck are difficult because the Oobleck becomes very thick whereas slow movements are easier because the Oobleck is more liquid.

Based on these findings, students were given the task of designing on paper a spaceship that can land on this ocean of Oobleck without sinking, take off without getting stuck, stay on the planet for at least an hour, and carry at least 6 people. Hovercrafts were not allowed, as the spaceship has to actually land. However, the spaceship could hover first, before landing. With the exception of these requirements, students were given complete artistic and creative freedom.

The students had to draw their ship and write an explanation of how it works for science class, write a short story for English, and create a computer animation of their ship for art.

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