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Learners experiment with a piece of Silly Putty® by stretching, bouncing, and snapping it. They then create flubber, a similar substance, by mixing diluted glue and a solution of sodium borate. Learners investigate the similarities and differences between the two polymers, including that Silly Putty is a silicon (Si) polymer and flubber is a carbon (C) polymer. Both have the properties of both a liquid and a solid, where they flow like a liquid or can be stretched slowly. This is because the molecular chains are loosely arranged and can slide past each other. If pulled quickly, the molecular chains break away from each other instead of sliding.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Changeable Silly Putty®, one egg (keep two spare eggs on hand) (Binney & Smith, Inc., 1100 Church Lane, P.O. Box 431, Easton, PA 18044-0431; 1-800-CRAYOLA) (available in most toy stores)
  • Two 250-ml plastic squeeze bottles
  • White glue (keep 1 gallon on hand)
  • Na2B4O7 • 10H2O(sodium borate) (keep 100 g on hand)
  • Dilute vinegar (keep 1 gal on hand)
  • Plastic Stir sticks (keep 2 on hand)
  • One 25-ml metal measuring spoon
  • One 15-ml plastic measuring spoon
  • One 1000-ml metal container
  • One 60-mm by 15-mm plastic petri dish with lid
  • One 100-ml plastic beaker
  • One 50-ml plastic beaker
  • One large plastic funnel cut wide at the bottom


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation