We love science and STEM activities. A couple of years ago, we did a whole month of STEM activities with our creative STEM activities series. Today’s cornstarch quicksand science experiment was our favorite science experiment for kids of the month.
We loved how the cornstarch mixture became a solid and a liquid at the same time. This classic oobleck science experiment is always a hit for kids, and makes the perfect quick science experiment!
Keep reading to learn how to make cornstarch quicksand and how to turn this science activity into a good option for elementary school science fair projects.
You’ll love how much fun it is to do with kids, and kids will love how messy it is.
Since the experiment is messy, it’s best to do it outside, or warn parents in advance to dress their kids in play-safe clothing on the day you’ll be doing this oobleck science experiment.
How to Turn the Cornstarch Quicksand Science Experiment into a Science Fair Project
Learn how to make quicksand with cornstarch and learn about Non-Newtonian fluids! The quicksand science experiment is fun and hands-on!
Click the image below to get the science lab and oobleck science experiment worksheets for this activity!
The Scientific Method for Kids
Science is a logical system for exploring our world. Each science experiment should include:
- Question: Kids should start every science experiment with a question, even if that question is just “what will happen?”
- Experiment: This is where the fun part comes into play. Test the hypothesis to determine if it answers the question fully.
- Recording and Analysis: As the test is completed, record what happened and analyze why.
- Retest: Try different variables and try a new test to see if the original answer is confirmed or disproved. Every variable should be tested more than once.
When you include these elements in your science experiment, then you can use it as a science fair project.
Cornstarch Experiment Explanation
Cornstarch and water mixed acts both like a solid and a liquid. Cornstarch and water is a suspension mixture with a solid dispersed into a liquid. When you press the mixture quickly, the starch molecules close together.
This causes the water to get trapped between the starch chains and create a semi-rigid structure. When you press slowly, this starch chain “block” doesn’t happen and the mixture flows like a liquid.
Because the viscosity of the mixture changes with force rather than heat, the cornstarch mixture is known as a non-Newtonian fluid.
Slime is another fun non-Newtonian fluid.
Is Quicksand a Non Newtonian Fluid?
The biggest takeaway from this science experiment are non-Newtonian fluid science and viscosity science. Pressure causes the molecules in the starch to cling together, seizing up the mixture.
But when you relax, the molecules relax and flow around your hand or foot or whatever they are on. Challenge your class to see what other non-Newtonian fluids they can think of.
What makes these fluids different from regular fluids like water and syrup?
Experiment with different amounts of cornstarch and water to see how long it takes for the mixture to become a full liquid, when it becomes a full solid, and what levels of viscosity there are in between those extremes.
Supplies for the Cornstarch Quicksand Science Experiment
For this non-Newtonian fluid experiment you will need:
- 1 box of corn starch
- A large bowl
- Food coloring
What You Need for a Science Fair
You’ll want to have these supplies on hand before doing your science fair project. Shop the included Amazon storefronts to make things easier and don’t forget to download the free science fair planning checklist before getting started!
Science Fair Project Planning
When you’re planning your project, you want to keep everything organized. Click the image below to get my free science fair project checklist so you can start organizing your project from the start.
You may also want to check out this list of science fair project research supplies.
Supplies for a Science Fair Project
There are so many supplies for science fair projects that are individual to each project, but if you want a general list of possible supplies and inspiration for your project, check out my selection of science fair experiment supplies on Amazon.
Supplies for a Science Fair Presentation
Your science fair presentation is important! It should look presentable and eye-catching. Check out this list of my favorite science fair presentation supplies.
How to Make Quicksand with Cornstarch
Mix the corn starch and the water together at a ratio of about 10 parts starch to 1 part water. Start the mixture by adding about ½ of a cup of cornstarch to about 1 cup of water.
Play with the mixture until it reaches the consistency that you want. You’re aiming for a texture that is runny when relaxed, but still firm enough to seize up when they hit the mixture.
Cornstarch Quicksand Science Experiment Results
This cornstarch science experiment is messy, but is always a favorite with kids. Take it outside and make a big batch in a bucket or shallow pan. Then have the kids run across it really quickly.
This makes it appear as if they are walking on water! Since they apply force when running, the mixture remains firm.
But if they relax and stand still, the will sink into the goo. It’s just like quicksand!