A tray of purple bubbles, with someone breathing into it with a straw

Follow these instructions and create a work of art out of bubbles, while learning some maths.

hazard iconSafety: If bubble paint splashes in your eye, wash thoroughly with water.

You will need

  • Bubble mix
  • Acrylic paint
  • Saucer
  • Paper
  • Straw or bubble wand
  • Old clothes

What to do

  1. Get dressed in old clothes – this activity can get a bit messy!
  2. Add two parts bubble mix to one part paint in a saucer.
  3. Grab your straw or bubble wand and gently start blowing bubbles in the saucer.
  4. When you have a saucer full of bubbles, lightly press the paper onto them to make a bubble print.
  5. Try different colours to make a rainbow bubble picture.
  6. Remember to clean up and wash your hands once you’ve finished!

What’s happening?

Bubbles aren’t always spheres. When you blow lots of bubbles together, you’ll see they press against each other and share a wall. If the bubbles are the same size, the wall will be flat. If the bubbles are different sizes, the smaller bubble will bulge into the larger one.

For lots of bubbles to fit very closely together, they stack together as six-sided hexagons – another structure that requires the least energy possible. Hexagons easily stack together without any gaps in between.

When you have a print of four or more bubbles together, you can see how the bubbles press against each other to best fill the space. The angles between the bubbles are about 120°. That’s the same as the angle between two sides of a hexagon next to each other.

If you’re after more maths activities for kids, subscribe to Double Helix magazine!

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