Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Fun with Foam: What Makes Good Foam?

 Children love to play with foam, whether when mixing bubble bath and water in the bath to create the biggest foam possible or using shaving foam for sensory play when younger, as in this picture.

In this fun investigation the children make foam and then devise a way of measuring it. It is easy to set up as it involves using everyday household materials for the foam production - a simple mixture of soap, oil and water for the test ‘sample’ and commercially produced bubble bath for comparison.  Children enjoy predicting which product they think will create the biggest and longest lasting foam and then testing to see if they are right. This activity will prompt them to consider the importance of carrying out a fair test.

Full details of activity can be found in our free resource and incudes teachers’ notes, children’s activity sheets and national curriculum links

Three, two, one – investigate!

  • Children love a challenge, so start the fair test investigation by telling them that scientists at Sumptuous Skincare Ltd have sent a sample of their new bubble bath. They would like the children to use a method of foam production to test how the sample they have produced compares with one or more known brands of creamy bath foam.
  • First, explore the idea of ‘foam’ with the children. Where have they seen foam before? Give them some examples, such as shaving foam, bath foam, foam on top of milky coffee or foam on the sea on a windy day.  What qualities does foam have and how is it different from lather or bubbles? How do the children think that foam is produced?
  • Have a selection of baths foams to hand, including the pre-made ‘test sample.’ Ask them how they are going to ensure that they test all the different foams so that all conditions are kept the same. How will they make the foam? (Ways to produce foam include blowing through a straw, stirring, whisking, beating or shaking).
  • Once the children have decided on what they need to keep the same for a fair test, they need to consider how they might measure results. How will they measure the success of the foam created? The activity lends itself to a variety of measuring and recording methods, so it is ideal if you are working with different age groups. 
  • The children will love to report back findings to the class and ultimately to Sumptuous Skincare in a variety of ways such as videos, reports, letters or photos with captions.

 Top Tips

Here are some tips to make your investigation a success:

  • This activity is perfectly suited for COVID secure working as it can easily be carried out individually, in pairs or small bubbles as equipment is inexpensive and easily available.
  • Encourage the children to spot mistakes in their own processes and hold mini plenaries to discuss these e.g. did they use the same number of whisks to create the foam?
  • One easy way to conduct this investigation is to mark graduations of 100 ml up the side of a two-litre pop bottle. The bath foam and 300 ml of water are added, the lid tightened, and the bottle shaken vigorously. Ten shakes later, how much foam is produced?
  • For accurate measurement, use a pipette or syringe to add the soap to water.

This month’s blog is brought to you by Clare Docking, one of our advisory teachers who works with industry and schools in the East of England.