Observations and results
Did the solutions with glycerin or corn syrup produce bubbles that lasted longer? Did the solution with glycerin make the longest-lasting bubbles of all?
Detergent lowers the surface tension of water enough so that bubbles can form. A bubble formed from a solution with water and detergent is a spherical layer of water molecules that is surrounded on either side by a layer of detergent molecules. Parts of the detergent molecules are attracted to water (which means they are known as hydrophilic) and other parts do not want to be near water (they are hydrophobic). Because of this, the detergent molecules in the bubble become oriented so that their hydrophilic parts touch the water and their hydrophobic parts face outward, touching the air.
The solution with only water and detergent probably made smaller, shorter-lived bubbles compared to the solutions with glycerin or corn syrup. Bubbles burst when the layer of water molecules between the detergent molecules evaporates. But Glycerin and corn syrup form weak bonds with the water molecules and slow down the evaporation process, thus improving the life span and durability of the bubble. Glycerin makes stronger, longer-lasting bubbles, but corn syrup is often substituted in bubble solutions because it is cheaper. Can you find other substances around the house that can be added to water to make a bubble solution? If you try products such as shampoo or liquid hand soap, you can check their ingredients to see what might be helping to make the bubbles form.
More to explore
"Bursting Bubbles Beget Itty-Bitty Bubbles" from Scientific American
"Bubbles" from Rob Hipschman at the Exploratorium.
"Soap Bubbles" from Chemical & Engineering News
"No-Soap Bubbles" from NASA’s Saturday Morning Science
"Bubble-ology" from Science Buddies
This activity brought to you in partnership with Science Buddies