Mucus Madness

Sticky, ooey-gooey mucus sometimes makes it hard to breathe.

Mucus – you might know it as snot! – is not only in our noses, but also helps protect our lungs! It’s sticky and slimy and if too much gets in your lungs, it might be a little challenging to breathe. People with asthma often have extra mucus in their lungs.

In this activity, you will make your own mucus!

Background:

  • Mucus (or snot) is the sticky stuff in the nose. It also lines the airways and the digestive tract.
  • Mucus helps protect the nose and lungs from the dirt, dust, germs and pollen in the air, all of which can cause irritation or even infection.
  • People with asthma have extra mucus in the lungs, so the airways get smaller and it gets really tough to breathe
  • You can’t “catch” asthma from your friends – it’s not contagious!

Materials:

  • 4 fl oz. Elmer’s White School Glue
  • ½ TBSP Baking Soda
  • 1 TBSP Contact Solution
  • Popsicle stick
  • Small Zip-lock bags

Key Questions

Activity Plan

  1. Find a bowl, cup, or plate to mix your slime in
  2. Pour out the entire contents of a 4oz of Elmer’s school glue into the bowl.
  3. Add ½ TBSP of baking soda and mix with the stick.
  4. After mixing, add your choice of food coloring.
  5. Mix and/or add more food coloring until you get the color you want.
  6. Add 1 TBSP of contact lens solution.
  7. Mix until slime forms and it begins to get harder to mix.
  8. Take the slime out and begin kneading with both of your hands.
  9. If needed, add ¼ TBSP contact lens solution to make the slime less sticky.

Adult supervision is required; This project is not appropriate for children under the age of 3 years. Warning: If large quantities of contact solution are accidentally ingested (greater than a tablespoon), get medical attention immediately. This recipe and more from Michaels.com -Elmer’s Recipes.

Follow-Up Questions

  • How is this slime similar to mucus? How is it different?

Extension Activities

  • Using large straws, put some slime in one and leave one clear. Have one child use the slime straw and one child use the clear straw to have pinwheel races, blow boats across water, etc. to show that the blocked straw (or the asthmatic lung) is harder to get air through.
  • If you don’t want the kids blowing the straws, set up a demonstration where you can pour water through both of the straws. Not much water should come through the straw with the slime, but should flow smoothly through the clear straw.
  • Use glitter to represent dust and other molecules in the air. Discuss how we need mucus in our noses and throats to help make sure pollutants don’t enter our lungs by showing how the slime picks up all the glitter from the table.

NGSS Connections (Life Science)

Disciplinary Core IdeaConnect It!
LS1.A: Structure and Function All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (1-LS1-1) Humans use lungs to take in air. How are our lungs similar or different to other organisms’ lungs? How do plants take in air?
LS1.A: Structure and Function Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction. (4-LS1-1)
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans Populations live in a variety of habitats, and change in those habitats affects the organisms living there. (3-LS4-4) Look at asthma rates in different areas. Why do some communities/places have higher rates of asthma than other places? How is the environment affecting how people can breathe? More background on this topic.
LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals, and microbes as these organisms live and die. Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment. (5-LS2-1) Compare and contrast how plants and animals breathe.