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Middle School Students Study Soap Membranes in STEM Workshop

Rudy Brandl

The Middle School’s spring STEM workshop offering was Bubble-ology: the science of soap membranes.  Under the guidance of Andrea Barnett, Middle School science teacher and Science Department Co-Chair, students learned how bubbles can be used to show the shortest path between points by applying the concepts of potential and kinetic energy to the chemistry of soap molecules. 

Students anticipated the possible paths and then built three-dimensional bubble wands out of pipe cleaners and straws in the shapes of triangular prisms and cubes. When dipped into the bubble solution, the answer appeared in the membranes extending from each angle.  

On the second day, students examined how bubble membranes are similar to cell membranes. They created a pore in the membrane and were able to pass things through without breaking it. Just as in a cell, only things with "similar chemistry" could pass through. Bubbles, as usual, brought great fun and smiles to all who attended.