WonderLab’s BubbleFest is back at the museum for a second consecutive year! This Labor Day weekend WonderLab will be overflowing with bubble fun for the entire family. 

BubbleFest 2019 is happening over the long holiday weekend, Saturday through Monday, August 31 – September 2, 2019. The entire museum will be open each of those days with special holiday open hours on September 2 from 9am – 5 p.m. BubbleFest activities are scheduled daily from 1-5 p.m.

As we gear up for the festival, we are thinking about bubbles and you guessed it: Bubble Science! Bubbles are enchanting and captivating! Bubble science is even more fascinating. When you play with bubbles you’re learning about a lot of cool topics like surface tension, surface area, geometry, and light. We asked our WonderLab Educators to to answer some questions about bubbles. Read all about this slippery, soapy science. 

Question: How are bubbles formed? – Answered by Emmy Brockman, Education Director To form a bubble you need three main elements: soap, water, and air. A bubble forms when air is trapped in a shell of soapy water. The soapy shell is kind of like a sandwich: a layer of water between two layers of soap. Yum! This “sandwich” keeps its structure and holds in the air because of the hydrophilic (water loving) and hydrophobia (water fearing) properties of soap. 

Question: Why are bubbles round? – Answered by Taylor Rickett, Museum Experience Manager  Bubbles maintain a spherical shape (round like a ball), because of surface tension that tries to pull all the molecules in as tightly as possible. This attractive force, surface tension, works with the air trapped inside your bubble to create a balance between the two, forming the bubble into a sphere rather than flattening out or popping.

Question: What is surface tension? – Answered by Riddhi Sood, WonderLab Science Blogger  ‘All liquids have a multitude of properties. One such property is surface tension. When a liquid is on a surface (like a table), surface tension will determine how far the liquid will spread. Thus, the higher the surface tension, the lower the tendency of the liquid to spread. Think of early morning when there is dew on the leaves. Due to high surface tension of water, we see droplets on the waxy surface of the leaves. When soap is added to water, the surface tension is reduced allowing it to expand. When air is blown into the mixture, a bubble is formed! 

Question: Why do bubbles pop? – Answered by Shelbie Porter, Museum Educator  Bubbles pop when one of the three main elements to a bubble is taken away. Dryness or the passing of time causes existing bubbles to lose water from the process of evaporation. Force, like a strong wind or sharp object, results in a hole puncturing the bubble’s shell. The air trapped in the bubble then escapes and it pops!

Question: How can you make a bubble glow in the dark? – Answered by Sarah Lynn Wells, Museum Educator  As we’ve learned, bubbles have a few main elements needed to form. But, what would happen if we replaced water with another similar liquid? To make glowing bubbles, you can replace water with tonic water! Tonic water is a carbonated drink that contains quinine, a substance that glows naturally under black light. If you create bubbles using this type of water, and use a black light, you can form glowing bubbles!

Why do we see different colors through a bubble? – Answered by Ella Heckman, Museum Experience Director  If you look closely at a bubble, you’ll notice that the colors gradually change until the bubble pops. The surface of a bubble reflects light. White light is composed of all colors of light. All different colors of light have a different wavelength. When light falls on a surface, some of it is absorbed and some of it is reflected back. The thickness of a bubble determines which light wavelengths will be absorbed and which will be reflected. We see the reflected light. 

Question: Why do bubbles bounce? – Answered by Sarah Ericson, Museum Experience Assistant Director  If a bubble is strong enough, it can bounce! A bubble can be made ‘stronger’ by adding something to the usual three main elements of a bubble – water, soap, and air. If we add something special to our soap, such as glycerin, it strengthens the soap. This super soap and glycerin mixture protects the bubble from popping as easily when it touches rough or dry surfaces, letting the bubble bounce away in one beautiful bubble piece! You can even experiment and try adding other substances to your bubble solution such as corn syrup and see what makes the strongest, bounciest bubble! 

BubbleFest 2019 is the place to play with all things bubble! Join us for: 

  • Bubble Engineer Station – Design and build bubble wands
  • Billowing Bubble Sculptures – Experiment and test bubbles in the vacuum chamber
  • Bubble Exploration Station – Giant & multi bubbles
  • Bubble Shapes – Use geometry and  Zometool to build bubble shapes.
  • Giant Sublimation Bubble – Trap CO2 gas in a giant bubble!
  • Sensory Station – Bubble Dough and Flubber Bubbles – bubbles that can be touched, squeezed and stretched.
  • Bubble Wrap Room
  • Glow In The Dark Bubbles
  • Bouncing Bubbles – Use handheld trampolines to bounce your bubbles. 
  • Giant Body Bubble – Be part of the bubble! 
  • …and more!

All BubbleFest 2019 activities are free with museum admission. Activities are appropriate for all ages and family groups. WonderLab is an award-winning science museum located at 308 W. Fourth St. on the B-Line Trail in Bloomington, Indiana. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5: p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $9, and children younger than one are free. For more information call (812) 337-1337, or go online to wonderlab.org or WonderLab’s Facebook page