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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Soap Bubbles Are Like Hummingbird Wings

How are soap bubbles and hummingbird wings connected?

Well, awhile back I was doing a research project in my kindergarten classroom. We were learning about hummingbirds. While doing research myself so I could be sure to give the children the most factual information about this lovely little creatures, I stumbled upon some interesting facts.

"Like soap bubbles, hummingbird's color comes from iridescence, not pigment. It winks on and off, depending on the light source and the angle of the viewer. This allows hummingbirds to flash colors or hide them which is useful for males who want to impress females or threaten other males."

I wanted to give my students a chance to experience exactly how iridescence works, so I had them explore with soap bubbles.

Every kindergarten boy becomes an expert at blowing soap bubbles when using the bathrooms in the hallway. I jumped at this knowledge and asked them the best way to do this. After brainstorming ideas, we decided on a method and went outside to see how iridescence works.

If you want to view the pictures, check out this post at oNe PiNK FiSH(Same post with pictures included.)


First, you need to wet your hands really well. Make them drip with as much water as possible.

Next, squirt about a quarter size amount of soap onto your wet hands. Rub and swirl hands in a circular type motion... like you do when washing your hands. If the soap is not lathering much, add more dish soap.

*Note: I have never been able to do this activity without using the entire container of soap. I would recommend purchasing a really cheap bottle for this activity.*

Once the you get a really good lather you are ready to try to make a bubble. To begin, make hands form a circle as in the above picture. Gentle and slowly blow between your hands.

At first, children get frustrated. They will need to see you do this as well. Watching you have trouble blowing the bubble, lets them know that it really will take several tries to master.

Seeing that first bubble being blown will erase all fears of not being successful. You will have a hard time prying kids away from this activity.

If you are observing the bubbles for iridescence, be sure to remember to point out the swirling color on the side of the bubbles. Constantly remind the children to look at the colors and ask them to describe what they see. It is so easy to get distracted with the actual bubble making. I know from experience.

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