Bubble, bubble, science toil no trouble

The Baltimore Sun

Children scurried with plastic wands in their hands, unleashing ribbons of bubbles and leaving trails of foam in front of the Maryland Science Center.

For an event called Bubble Days, the center put pans of soap solution and plastic bubble wands in front of its entrance for children and whimsy-seeking adults to create their own bubbles this past weekend.

"From the elderly to infants, everyone just loves it," said Ruth Brancato, who watched as her 2-year-old granddaughter, Reed Marie Wilson, chased bubbles with two pink plastic wands in her hand.

With foam in her hair, the giggling toddler grabbed a fistful of the soapy water from the pan and put some in her mouth before blowing it out.

This is the third year the Maryland Science Center has held an event devoted to bubbles.

"It's an offshoot of workshops, which really showed the science behind the soap bubbles," said Christopher Cropper, the senior director of marketing at the center. "It was so popular that it turned to a whole weekend."

The Science Center assembled craft and science workshops for children. In a bubble laboratory, the kids mixed 4 ounces of water with 10 pumps of dishwashing soap and four pumps of glycerin to create a solution. In a bubble workshop, Joyce Trageser, the supervisor of school programs at the center, showed kids why bubbles were round, taught them about surface area and explained the physics of keeping them afloat.

"It's a favorite every year, because parents can talk about how science relates to bubbles," Trageser said.

For entertainment, bubble artist Casey Carle set a bubble on his tongue, then set it on fire.

"I think my husband's going to try the fire thing at home," said Reed's mother, Sherry Wilson of Westminster.

Dressed in a black lab coat decorated with pink glittery bubbles, Carle made 7-foot tubular bubbles and even put his head inside a giant bubble. During his routine, Carle added science tidbits.

"The air is trapped in liquid," he told the audience. "There's all kinds of bubbles in the world. Your life can be saved by a bubble - it's called an air bag."

The secret to blowing successful bubbles is simple science, says the entertainer with 20 years of bubbly experience, who has performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and consulted for Cirque du Soleil.

He has three recommendations for durable bubbles: Create bubbles in humid weather because the moisture helps them last longer. Don't stir the wand in the solution, because it creates foam. For the best bubble solution, he recommends a mix of glycerin, dishwashing liquid and distilled water.

"It's easy to make a homemade brew from what you have in the kitchen," he said.


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