Science and engineering with your favorite fidgety toy
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty has taken the world by storm.
Their thinking putty is one of the hottest toys around, with tons of different types, Aaron’s thinking putty has a little something for everyone.
Since my goal is to bring fun kids science to you, we’ve been working on a science with toys series where we take popular toys and dream up science and engineering projects you can do with them. Why science with toys? Well, you already have them on hand, and your kids already love to play with them. Why not turn that fun into play-based learning?
Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty is a silicone based putty that doesn’t dry out. It is stretchy, moldable, and the perfect distraction for fidgety kids. Now you can take your thinking putty to a whole new level as you learn how to make putties, or slimes, engineer towers, bounce balls and more!
Keep reading to find out our science and engineering projects you can do with Aaron’s thinking putty.
5 Science Projects you can do with Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty
- Find the best size and shape of a bouncy ball
- Investigate how the shape of a Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty "ball" affects the bounce.
- Make a mold and cast of a house key, like a spy
- Learn about polymers as you mix up your own thinking putty
- Collect non-Newtonian fluids and make a table of how they defy the normal laws of Physics
4 Thinking Putty Engineering Challenges
- Engineer bouncier putty than what you made in our science projects portion.
- Engineer a thinking putty or slime to make the biggest bubble.
- Engineer a putty that will create a hardened mold as it dries.
- Find the shape that will allow you to mold the tallest tower.
5 Science Projects you can do with Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty
1. Find the best size for the bounciest ball.
Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty is a silicon-based putty that can be rolled into a ball and bounced. This can be the start of a great experiment that reinforces how to take various types of measurements, as well as has a nice blend of engineering in it. The goal is to find the best size ball to bounce the highest.
Kids should take different amounts of Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty and roll it into a ball. Does more thinking putty make a bigger or smaller ball?
Then kids should bounce the ball in a controlled fashion. You could ask them to devise a plan to control the ball bounce, or you could suggest that they drop the ball from the same height each time. Kids will need to measure the diameter of the ball and the height of the bounce.
Bring in graphing and analysis by asking them to graph the ball bounce height (y-axis) as a function of the ball diameter (x-axis). What do kids notice? Is there a correlation between the size of the ball and the hight it will bounce back up? I love this project because it really does only use Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty, so set up is a breeze!
2. Investigate how the shape of the putty affects the bounce.
This is another fun bouncing game with your thinking putty. Except here we don’t want to bounce high, we want to bounce in a crazy manner and investigate how the shape of the “ball” affects how it bounces. Think of how a football bounces differently than a basketball. What if your ball is a cube or a pyramid?
3. Make a mold and cast of a house key, like a spy.
Putty is so much fun to play with, especially when you are pressing things into it. It is pretty easy to make a mold with Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty – just press an object into it and remove. This makes for a great observation activity as kids can try and determine the smallest details that will still be molded. Can you make a mold of a house key? If you only make one side of the key would it work in the lock? Why or why not?
As you are making molds kids might really want to also make a cast. If you don’t want to get things mixed into your thinking putty you can cover it with plastic wrap – just be aware that it will remove some of the details. You can cast your mold in a variety of items, gallium if you want a finished metal look, chocolate if you want a tasty treat, even wax if you want some new colorful art supplies.
You don’t have to make a mold of a house key either – if you love Legos you could make a mold of a minifig or a brick. If you love bling you could make a mold of some costume jewelry! The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing what to do!
4. Learn about polymers as you mix up your own thinking putty.
While you can’t make an exact replica of thinking putty in your home, you can make putties and slime that have similar properties. Why can’t you make thinking putty at home? Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty, as well as silly putty, are silicone-based putties that have (as far as I know) dimethyl silicone oil. To make this you need a fume hood – so basically, you need an equipped chemistry lab that can save you from toxic hydrogen chloride gas. I don’t know about you, but that puts it out of reach for me and my kids at home. And no, your kitchen hood is not the same as a lab grade fume hood.
So, now that we have our expectations set, let’s talk about making various slime/putty blends. We have a post that shows you how to make 5 different types of slime – all are fun to make and play with. If you want to amp up the science aspect, even more, you can boost our clear slime to magnetic slime that will show you the magnetic field lines of magnets when pressed into it!
As you mix your putty your kids will likely wonder why it is pulling together from the more liquid based state. You can learn all about the chemistry and physics of putty to answer their questions.
5. Collect non-Newtonian fluids and make a table of how they defy the normal laws of physics.
Non-newtonian fluids are fluids that seemingly defy physics. That is, they don’t act like how we expect water to act in a situation. Some non-Newtonian fluids get harder when you tap them, others flow slowly at first and then zoom out as they liquefy.
Research different types of non-Newtonian fluids and make a chart of how they defy our common sense. How many can you find that defy sheer forces (and what are sheer forces?!?), how many get more viscous with pressure? How many can you spot in your house?
4 Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty Engineering Challenges Explained
1. Engineer a bouncy putty in your kitchen.
I always love a good kitchen science project, especially when it can blend a little engineering in. Choose one of our slime recipes and prepare to make a few little batches of slime. To engineer something you have to try changing different variables.
What happens if you put more or less water in? What about more or less Borax? Remember, the goal of this challenge is to engineer the bounciest ball, so stretchiness, sliminess, etc isn’t important. Just how high the ball will bounce. (See our note on Borax)
You can even test things like the order of mixing ingredients or letting the slime stand or stir for a certain amount of time before the bounce test.
2. Engineer a slime to make the biggest bubble
This is similar to the previous engineering challenge with a different desired outcome. Instead of desiring a thick bouncing ball, we want a thinner slime that we can use to blow a gigantic bubble. Can you use what you learned in your last engineering challenge to guide you to quickly zero in on what changes will make a slime that is fluid enough yet elastic enough to make a huge bubble?
3. Engineer a putty that will create a hardened mold as it dries.
If you loved the idea of our science project that made molds of objects but wasn’t thrilled about the idea of mixing things into your Crazy Aaron’s thinking putty by accident then this is the engineering challenge for you!
You will need to do some research on mold putties that dry quickly, as creating a mold with slime would be very difficult. Primarily because slime is, well, slime. It doesn’t hold it’s form – which means it can’t hold it’s form against another object.
But what is engineering without research? I know one effective method to do this, and it uses things you have in your garage and kitchen – so you won’t need any fancy supplies. This should be another fun, messy, gooey project just like making slime.
4. Find the shape that will allow you to mold the tallest tower.
When we think of tower building engineering challenges we often think of building with sticks and tape, cups and glue. That is what makes this engineering challenge so unique and mind-bending. And mind-bending challenges are great for growing your creative muscles that allow you to think outside of the box.
Using just the thinking putty how tall of a tower can you build? What is the best method? Can you make your own bricks to build with, or is it better to sculpt it into a tower?