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Kids become 'bubbleologists'


July 25, 2019

By Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Ziarra Olson, 7, watches her giant bubble flow with the breeze as James Brown, 10, tries to catch it during the Bubbleology class Wednesday at the Hurley Public Library.


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HURLEY, Wis. — A group of youth became skilled ‘bubbleologists’ on Wednesday as part of the Hurley Public Library’s summer library program.

The session was taught by Annie McDonnell, a naturalist at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin. The kids got a brief lesson before making their own bubbles inside and then went outside for some giant bubble-making art.

“We talked about bubbles and where they are found in nature and how they’re created,” McDonnell said. “We talked about what states of matter the bubbles are created in (solid, liquid or gas) and we created bubble solutions the kids can take home with them.”

Most kids might think bubbles are something that are created by people alone but they occur naturally in nature in all seasons.

Whales create bubbles to corral fish to eat, she said. The diving bell spider creates bubbles to breathe while building webs underwater.

Other examples she gave included the violet sea snail that creates bubbles from its own mucus to float on the water’s surface. The star nosed mole, which has poor eyesight and depends on smell to find food, blows a bubble underwater and swallows it back in to smell for food. The spittlebug lays its eggs in bubbles it creates from its own urine.

The kids learned how bubbles can be made to last longer by creating a solution of water, soap and glycerol. Water has surface tension as the molecules attract and try to stay close, McDonnell said. The soap breaks up the molecular bonds which is why the surface becomes slippery, she said.

The glycerol helps slow the evaporation process of bubbles which causes them to pop, she said.

Natalie Raymond, an assistant librarian, said the summer library program is each Wednesday at 2 p.m. and is designed to be a fun learning event for young children. The July 31 program will be on reptiles and McDonnell will be back with live reptiles and a learning program.


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