This Tan-Colored Classic That Stretches, Snaps, and Bounces: Silly Putty
Yet another example of a non-Newtonian fluid, Silly Putty was originally developed during WWII as an attempted (and much needed) substitute for natural rubber. While it failed in that regard, this old-school putty has enjoyed a constant level of popularity, with more than 300 million of the familiar red eggs sold since its release in the 1950s.
A personal confession: I love this stuff. My mom still includes an egg of Silly Putty in my stocking every year (I am a man, in my 30s), and I will still bite it. Don’t tell me you never did.
This Amazingly Captivating Substance That Was Once Known As Gak: Slime
Any child of the ’90s will remember the phenomenon that was Nickelodeon’s Gak. With its bright colors, brighter commercials, and splat-shaped plastic case that made fantastically gross sounds when you pressed the stuff home, Gak was a more modern, fun alternative to Silly Putty with a singularly jiggly, bouncy and stretchy texture all its own.
Today, Gak is enjoying a renaissance under the more anonymous heading of ‘slime’, with thousands of YouTube and Instagram videos demonstrating all the different varieties you can make at home.
We have our own favorite recipe, and you can find the supplies right here. Hint: it’s really, really easy to make.
This Classroom Staple That Makes Some Amazing Substances: Elmer's White Glue
As common as it is, this PVA-based glue is a pretty amazing substance. Not only will it hold your latest crafting masterpiece together, Elmer’s will also let you make your own slime, patch holes in your walls, and when paired with glitter, makes for an easy DIY beauty solution.
And who doesn’t remember the immensely satisfying feeling of peeling dried Elmer’s Glue off of their palms? (Something I wish I was doing right now, as I type).
These Tiny Balls That Turn Into Squishy Translucent Marbles On Contact With Water
Formed of superabsorbent polymers (aka, SAPs), these water-absorbing substances were pioneered for use in diapers and other situations in which moisture may be a problem. And now, as all great things go, they’ve been re-engineered for use in fun, everyday, totally pointless activities (like filling up swimming pools with them).
These tiny beads make for an impressive and very inexpensive scientific demonstration, or just a really fun way to pass some time (and make experiments of your own). You can find a wide variety of them on Amazon.
This Opaque Liquid That Looks Like Something Out Of Alien: Ferromagnetic Fluid
Originally invented in the 1960s by a NASA scientist as a means of propelling fuel into an engine in a weightless environment, Ferrofluids have become a fascinating field of scientific study all their own, which we will not get into here.
Because, more importantly, it’s a completely, insanely amazing substance that does incredible things when exposed to magnets. And even cooler, you can buy it on Amazon for cheap.