Finding a DIY project was a little challenging for me because I love crafting. I looked on Pinterest and everything that I saw was something that I saw myself doing. Since I want to be an elementary teacher, DIY projects are perfect for me. So I decided since I needed to get out of my comfort zone, I would start with the thing that I hate most.
I started googling science experiments that would be easy enough for me to do in a dorm. I think the exact phrase that I googled was “DIY science experiments”. It took me to Pinterest and I didn’t find any that I thought would be challenging enough or out of my comfort zone. I was also thinking of experiments that maybe one day I would use in my classroom and have a lesson plan surrounding it. Even with that thought in mind, I was dreading finding a project that had to do with science. I finally came across a video that said “How to Make Magic Mud” with a picture of glowing hands covered in what looked like glop. I watched the video and realized that this magic mud was being made out of potatoes. PERFECT. I never cook and I hate science, I found the perfect project.
All I needed (or thought) was potatoes, pot, water, and a mixing bowl. The two videos I found never stated exactly what you needed right off the bat so I figured size, quantity, and quality didn’t really matter in this experiment. Oh how I was wrong. I went to the store and found a sack of potatoes, just plain potatoes that were the cheapest. I came back and borrowed a pretty sharp knife to cut the potatoes, probably a steak knife. I borrowed my roommates pot (that is quite small in size) and I didn’t have another bowl to put the potatoes in with the hot water. But that didn’t occur to me until a little while into cutting the potatoes. I didn’t have any concerns about this project, I really thought it was going to be very simple. I was very, very wrong.
First, cutting the potatoes was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. The knife was not a cutting knife and at the beginning, I was resting my pointer finger right on the blade to help myself cut it. About 20 minutes in, I had 7 tiny cuts on my finger and I was no longer able to use that finger. (This wasn’t a project fault, this was my own personal fault for not knowing how use a knife). I cut three potatoes and had already filled up the pot that I was borrowing from my roommate. I asked around to almost everyone I knew
asking if they had a pot and mixing bowl I could borrow and, of course, no one answered me. That was when I made the executive decision to only use three potatoes. The videos never said anything
about having to use the whole bowl, so I decided to try it out. All the things that happened in the video happened to my potatoes, but in a way smaller degree. When I had poured out the water, I had a very tiny bit of magic mud (the picture to the left).
I am a visual learner all the way, so the most helpful resources I found were videos. The resources that had only instructions to read, I found harder to focus on because I wanted to be able to see what I had to do. I really struggle with homework assignments that focus on reading and taking notes, because it always feels like I don’t retain anything that I have read. I enjoy projects like this way more because I actually take what I have learned and I apply it in a real world setting. The resources I found were mostly videos. The one video How To Make Magic Mud was the most useful one. Every time I tried finding a new source, it had this video linked to it. It was very helpful and showed the exact step by steps you had to do. They made this video in mind to do this experiment at home on a day where maybe kids are cooped up in the house and need something fun to do. That was very useful because I was able to see what the potatoes were suppose to look like and how the water was suppose to separate once it was just the warm potato water. In the midst of my freak out of where to put all the potatoes after being in the water, I found another video called Magic Mud Edron Academy that showed the experiment a little bit differently. For one, they had about 4 people cutting the potatoes, which would have been very helpful to know before I started anything. They also showed the container they put the water in, to be huge (clear to see in the video) and the container was actually clear. So even though the first video was more viral, this second video would have been more helpful in the beginning. I am most definitely a visual learner, with step by step needing to be provided, and both these videos (and one more) really helped me with that.
I also found a pdf of a lesson plan written by Nina Laitinen and Margaret Stuart that had this experiment broken down to teach to a 2nd grade class. But instead of using potatoes, they used starch. This helped me think of this project as a lesson plan because obviously you would never have children trying to cut potatoes up into little pieces. This lesson plan also gave exact measurements that would have even been helpful when using potatoes. Another website I found was strictly for kids about the age of 4 called Little Scientist, How to Make Magic Mud and Silly Putty. They used starch as well and their measurements were “parts”. So for example they said “1 part warm water”. I’m not really sure what this meant or how they expect anyone to know what that means. They had it a little differently because they said to have food dye so that you could change the color mud to make it more fun for the kids. I found one last video that was a home video made by a fourth or fifth grader Megan Roosevelt called Magic Mud science experiment. I liked this one because she did the experiment outside and really showed that anyone could do this since it wasn’t made by adults in a very professional setting. The only thing about this video is that she used starch and not potatoes.
Obviously, I was so frustrated and wanted to have a mental breakdown after the microscopic mud that I made. I did play with the tiny bit that I had, and was happy. But I learned some very vital lessons by doing this project. I should have looked at more websites to see if they gave exact quantities or if everyone had simply used an entire bag of potatoes. I should have realized how many potatoes a whole bag is, especially when they are cut up into the smallest pieces that one could cut. I should have watched the videos a little more closely to see that their bowls and pots were the biggest size that I have ever seen. Although, I truly hated every moment of this project, I’m glad that I did it. People looked at me like I was crazy when I said what I was doing, but I did something new. That’s all you can really ask for in life, the ability to try new things (whether successful or not).
Laitinen, Nina and Stuart, Margaret. “Magic Mud”. http://www.nipissingu.ca/education/jeffs/4284Fall/PDFS/MagicMud.pdf
Thompson, Grant. “How to Make Magic Mud-From a Potato!” The King of Random. March 13, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0J4dRqg7CE
Menendez, Daniela. “Magic Mud Edron Academy”. June 12, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhY9xS6f0Zc
Keeping them out of trouble. “Little Scientist, How to make Magic Mud and Silly Putty”. YMC. November 26, 2012. http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/keeping-em-out-of-trouble/20121126/little-scientist-how-to-make-magic-mud-and-silly-putty
Roosevelt, Megan. “Magic Mud science experiment”. June 22, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YYbP_sL8AY