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How to Make Mystery Matter that's Both Liquid & Solid

Learn how to make mystery matter that's both liquid and solid with the instructions in this Howcast science project video.


Do you guys like mysteries?

Do you read really cool mystery books, mystery novels, Sherlock Holmes, or maybe you had a really cool chocolate bar and somebody ate it at your house and you had to solve the mystery of who ate it? Well I have a really cool mystery, and I like to call this experiment, "Mystery Matter".

Now you see, obviously somethings are very easy to determine what state of matter it is, right. Now for those of you who don't know, matter is something that takes up space. Now everything on Earth, now think about it, takes up space, right. You could drink a glass of water, because liquids take up space.

You couldn't drink up a bath tub of water because it takes up too much space. You can fit a grain of sand in your hand, but you couldn't hold entire boulder in your hand, because solids could take up too much space.

Think about air, right. You can breath in air, you could put air in a balloon, and it could fill up the balloon, but the more air you put, it explodes, because it could take up too much space. So everything in the universe, everything on Earth takes up space. But some things are really hard to determine what state of matter is it in. Wait a minute. Is it a solid? Think about an ice cube. It's a solid. It starts to melt. It turns into a liquid, and then it evaporates and it turns into a gas.

So water could be all three states of matter. But this here, it just confuses me. It just makes me say hmm, wait, what state of matter is this. And all I need are two things. Okay? One is corn starch, for those of you who don't know. Many parents use corn starch to make pudding, they make gravy. It's a really cool cooking material I guess we can call it.

But we're not going to cook with it, we're going to make something really weird with it called, "Mystery Matter". I'm going to use one bag of cornstarch. I'm going to drop it in my container, just like this. And I'm going to make two bags, because more is always better. Okay? Two bags, and I'm going to drop this into here. Okay? We're going to save a little.

Now I'm going to add water. Now it's always cooler if you make it a different color. So I could make my mystery matter green, I could make it blue, I could make it red. For now I'll say, make it blue. I'm going to add ten drops of blue. So count with me 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. If you don't like it, you can make it darker, we could add an extra ten. Let's see what it looks like. And we have my blue water, and I think it needs to be a little bluer so let's just do ten more. Okay? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Got a little tornado going on there with a vortex. Stir it around, and yeah, that just looks a lot better. But now here's the problem. If you add way too much liquid into your powder, actually liquid, solid, right. You take the smallest piece of cornstarch and put it underneath a microscope. It has a definitive shape, this is a solid, that's my liquid. But if add too much of the liquid, I ruin my mystery matter.

It's going to take some time to get it right, so just check this out. I'm going to add a little bit of my water just like this, and stop. Okay, now this is extremely messy. I would recommend wearing a smock, or an apron, covering your table. Don't do this over mommy's favorite rug. I'm going to stir this up. Now as I start to stir it, you're going to notice that the powder and the water start to have a really cool reaction.

You can kind of get an idea, look at this. Something starting to happen. Okay? Now how do you know when to stop adding water. Well, you can kind of tell, if there's still a little bit of powder left, then you know you need to add a little more water. But now it gets tricky, you want to just put a little water at a time, a little bit at a time.

Because if you add too much water it will be too much like a liquid, and we want to make it look like my mystery matter, and more water. And don't lie, you guys love messes. This is going to be fun. You could do it outside if you wanted to. And I think this is going to be just right. I think I just added to perfect amount of water.

Now guys, while I'm making this, let's just go over something, okay. If you're near a table, hit the table, right. It's hard, it has a shape. The only way you can change it's shape is by giving it force, maybe you had a saw, or an ax, you can change the shape of the table. Please don't do that, I'm just saying. Or think of an apple, right. If you bite into an apple, you change it's shape. If mommy cuts the apple, you're changing it's shape.

Now liquids, liquids can take the shape of whatever they go into, right. If I put a liquid in a cup, it takes the shape of the cup. If I put it back in my mouth it takes the shape of my mouth. Eventually later it takes the shape of the toilet bowl. That's disgusting, right? But it's true. It changes it's shape, now this is my mystery matter, and it is ready.

Now check this out. Let me show you something amazing, and you're going to say, how did he do that. It kind of looks like magic, right? Watch this, okay. Here we go. I'm going to take my hand, I'm going to punch the table, ready, watch. Did my hand go through the table. No it didn't, the molecules in this table are compacted so tightly, that it gives this table shape.

Now if I hit the water I was able to go into the water, because the molecules are further apart, so I'm able to go into it, liquids flow. Now, here's my question, okay? What state of matter is this? Is it a solid, or is it a liquid. Right now you're probably making your predictions, but now I'm going to confuse you. Watch this.

I'm going to punch it, now if I punch it and it's a liquid, I would go through it. If I punch it and I can't go through it, it's a solid. Now ready, let's see. Did I go into it? I'm not going into it. It's a solid, it's a solid, right? Now wait, what if I go into it slowly. I can't go into the table. If I go slow, I still do not go through the table.

But watch this. Punch, solid, slow and my hand goes into it. Guys, can you help. Wait, now it's a liquid, and if I pull my hand up fast, the pressure, it's a solid. But what if I pull my hand out slow. Oh, Oh, ewe, dude.

Okay, this stuff is weird, and I'm still confused. I've been doing this experiment for years. Guys, is it a solid, or is it a liquid. How about this, can you pick up water and roll it around and turn it into a ball? No you can't. Pick up water, it flows through your hands. Watch this, I can pick some of it up, and by moving it quickly, look I have it. Check this out, look at this, it's keeping it's shape. It's a ball, and the minute I stop moving it. It turns into a liquid.

So could something on Earth be both? Is it a solid? Is it a liquid? Is it both? What do you think? Go home, get your own materials, and try to make your own mystery matter, and answer the question. What state of matter is the mystery matter?

Have fun, begin your investigation.

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