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Bubble Life & Temperature

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Does temperature affect how long bubbles last?

Does temperature affect how long bubbles last?

brokenchopstick, Flickr
Purpose

The purpose of this project is to determine if temperature affects how long bubbles last before they pop.

Hypothesis

Bubble lifespan is not affected by temperature. (Remember: You cannot scientifically prove a hypothesis, however, you can disprove one.)

Experiment Summary

You are going to pour the same amount of bubble solution into jars, expose the jars to different temperatures, shake the jars to create bubbles, and see if there is any difference in how long the bubbles last.

Materials

  • identical clear jars, preferably with lids (baby food jars would work well)
  • bubble solution
  • measuring spoons
  • thermometer
  • stopwatch or clock with a seconds hand
Experimental Procedure
  1. Use your thermometer to find locations that are different temperatures from each other. Examples might include outdoors, indoors, in the refigerator, and in the freezer. Alternatively, you could prepare water baths for your jars by filling bowls with hot water, cold water, and ice water. The jars would be kept in the water baths so that they would be the same temperature.

  2. Label each jar with either where you are placing it or the temperature (so you can keep them straight).

  3. Add the same amount of bubble solution to each jar. The amount you use will depend on how large your jars are. You want enough solution to totally wet the inside of the jar and form as many bubbles as possible, plus still have a little liquid remaining at the bottom.

  4. Place the jars at the different temperatures. Give them time to reach the temperature (maybe 15 minutes for small jars).

  5. You are going to shake each jar the same length of time and then record how long it takes for all of the bubbles to pop. Once you decide how long you are going to shake each jar (e.g., 30 seconds), write it down. It's probably best to do each jar one at a time to avoid getting confused about starting/stopping time. Record the temperature and the total time it took for the bubbles to pop.

  6. Repeat the experiment, preferably a total of three times.

Data
  • Construct a table listing the temperature of each jar and the time that the bubbles lasted.

  • Calculate the average time bubbles lasted for each temperature. For each temperature, add up the time the bubbles lasted. Divide this number by the total number of times you took data.

  • Graph your data. The Y-axis should be the length of time your bubbles lasted (probably in seconds). The X-axis will show increasing temperature in degrees.
Results

Did the temperature have an affect on how long the bubbles lasted? If it did, did they pop more quickly in warm temperatures or cooler temperatures or was there no apparent trend? Did there seem to be a temperature that produced the longest-lasting bubbles?

Conclusions

  • Was your hypothesis accepted or rejected? Can you propose an explanation for the outcome?

  • Do you think you would get the same results if you tried different brands of bubble solution?

  • Most liquids will form bubbles if shaken. Do you think you would get the same results with other liquids?

  • Temperature affects the humidity inside the jars and thus how long bubbles last. The relative humidity inside closed jars is higher at warmer temperatures. What effect do you think this had on the outcome of your experiment? Would you expect different results if the humidity was constant throughout the experiment? (You could do this by blowing bubbles into open jars using a straw and recording the time it takes for the bubbles to pop.)

  • Can you name some examples of foams and bubbles that you encounter in everyday life? You use dishwashing liquids, shaving creams, shampoo, and other cleaners. Does it matter how long the bubbles last? Do you think there are any practical applications for your experiment. For example, do you think your dishwashing liquid is still working after all the bubbles have popped? Would you choose a cleaner that didn't produce bubbles or a lather?
Temperature & Humidity - Things to Think About

When you increase the the temperature of the bubble solution, the molecules in the liquid and the gas inside the bubble are moving more quickly. This can cause the solution to thin faster. Also, the film that forms the bubble will evaporate more quickly, causing it to pop. On the other hand, at warmer temperatures the air in a closed container will become more humid, which will slow the rate of evaporation and therefore slow the rate at which the bubbles will pop.

When you lower the temperature you might reach a point where the soap in your bubble solution becomes insoluble in water. Basically a sufficiently cold temperature might keep the bubble solution from forming the film needed to make bubbles. If you lower the temperature enough, you may be able to freeze the solution or freeze the bubbles, thus slowing the rate at which they will pop.

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