STEAM | 1 March 2018STEAM Lab for Kids: Marvelous Marbled Paper Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Create gorgeous marbled patterns by floating paint on thickened water and lifting the design onto alum-treated paper with this activity from STEAM Lab for Kids. Want to do an activity over Skype with author Liz Lee Heinecke? Enter to win our STEAM Lab for Kids pre-order giveaway here! SAFETY TIPS AND HINTS ? Allow two days for this project. On Day 1, prepare the paper and thickened water. On Day 2, marble the paper. ? Adult supervision is required. Carrageenan works better than cornstarch for marbling, but don’t be afraid to try it with cornstarch. It will still be lots of fun. MATERIALS ? Large bowl ? 3/8 cup (72 g) alum (aluminum sulfate), available online or at most grocery stores in the spice section ? 11/2 gallons (5.7 L) water, divided ? Paintbrushes and/or eyedroppers ? Sponge (optional) ? Heavyweight craft paper or watercolor paper ? Blender ? 2 tablespoons (22 g) carrageenan (marbling size), divided (available online; alternatively, cornstarch may be substituted, see Note) ? 1-gallon (3.8 L) container with a lid ? Shallow trays or baking sheets ? Liquid acrylic paint (several colors) ? Toothpicks ? Styrofoam strip (optional) PROTOCOL 1. In a large bowl, mix together the alum and 1/2 gallon (1.9 L) of water. Brush or sponge the solution onto several pieces of heavy paper, like watercolor paper. Alternatively, dip the paper in the alum solution. Let the paper dry completely. 2. In a blender, blend 1 tablespoon (11 g) of carrageenan with 1/2 gallon (1.9 L) of water for 30 seconds. Pour into a large lidded container for storage. 3. In the blender, combine the remaining tablespoon (11 g) of carrageenan with the remaining 1/2 gallon (1.9 L) of water and mix again. Combine the two batches and let them sit overnight. The solution will keep for about 2 days. NOTE: To make the solution with cornstarch instead of carrageenan: In a small bowl, dissolve 1/4 cup (32 g) of cornstarch in 1/2 cup (120 ml) of cold water. In a saucepan over high heat, bring 6 cups (1.4 L) of water to a boil. Stir the cornstarch solution into the water. Stir well and boil for 1 minute. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool, and thin to the consistency of heavy cream by adding water as needed. 4. Pour a thin layer of carrageenan (or cornstarch) solution into a shallow tray. 5. Add water to the acrylic paint and mix until it is the consistency of whole milk. 6. Drip or use a brush to spatter the thinned paint into the solution. Be creative and cover the entire surface with paint. 7. Use toothpicks to make marbled patterns. 8. You can place toothpicks in a strip of Styrofoam to make a uniform dragging tool to create more complicated repeated patterns. 9. When your design is complete, carefully place a piece alum-treated paper on it and smooth it to remove any air underneath. 10. Carefully remove the paper by lifting it out of the paint. You can drag it against the edge of the pan to remove excess paint, if you wish. 11. Briefly rinse the colorful paper in the sink to remove extra paint and see the design more clearly. 12. Let your artwork dry and show it off CREATIVE ENRICHMENT ? Use the paper you created to make bookmarks, notebook covers, or in a pop-up book. THE STEAM BEHIND THE FUN: To create lasting beautiful marbled designs, you have to float paint or ink on top of another liquid, create a design on it, and then get the colors to stick to a piece of paper or fabric. Carrageenans are large, long chainlike molecules extracted from edible red seaweeds. Their size and flexibility give them a special ability to form gel-like substances. Carrageenans are often used to thicken dairy products, like yogurt, but in this lab, we use them to thicken water so paint will float on top of it. Alum is a special chemical called a mordant. Mordants are good at combining with other chemicals so they get stuck and can’t move around much. Alum is often used in dying textiles, like the cloth used to make your clothes, but other mordants can be used to stain other things, like bacterial cells. In this project, the alum on the paper acts as a mordant by combining with the paint and making it stick to the paper. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: STEAM Lab for Kids is an art-forward doorway to science, math, technology and engineering. While many aspiring artists don’t necessarily identify with STEM subjects, and many young inventors don’t see the need for art, one is essential to the other. Revealing this connection and encouraging kids to explore it fills hungry minds with tools essential to problem solving and creative thinking. Each of the projects in this book is designed to demonstrate that the deeper you look into art, the more engineering and math you’ll find. There’s a science to great art. From graphite circuit comic books to edible stained glass, young engineers and artists alike will find inspiration. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.