Nova recently broadcast a four-part series on Making Stuff. In the episode, “Making Stuff: Smarter,” host David Pogue explored non-Newtonian fluids.
Specifically, a cornstarch and water mixture called “oobleck” (a term that comes from a Dr. Suess story). Oobleck dramatically changes its viscosity, or thickness, depending on how fast you try to move it. Keep the action soft and it flows like a liquid, but hit it hard and it’s solid.
In the episode, Pogue explored a huge tub of oobleck. If he ran across it, the surface remained hard. But when he simply stood on it, he sank.
Heidi and her students decided to recreate the experiment, and everyone was delighted to find out it worked exactly as predicted. The students loved this hands-on (and feet-in) experience!