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Science Projects for Kids: Chemical Reactions

Foam Cup Meltdown

Your hand-drawn witch seems to shrink in foam cup meltdown once she's placed in acetone.
Your hand-drawn witch seems to shrink in foam cup meltdown once she's placed in acetone.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Help your children create a foam cup meltdown when they dip a hand-drawn witch in acetone and turn the sticky witch goo into molded art.

Safety First:

­Make sure your children wear goggles to protect their eyes from the acetone and wear rubber gloves to prot­ect their hands. Make sure they don't pour the acetone into a plastic bowl because it could damage the bowl. Do this activity in an area with good air circulation.


What You'll Need:

  • Foam cup
  • Pen
  • Goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Glass or metal bowl

How to Create a Foam Cup Meltdown:

Step 1: Have your children draw a picture of a wicked witch on an upside-down foam cup.

Step 2: Ask your kids to put on the goggles and rubber gloves. Help them pour acetone into the bowl so it is about 1/2 inch deep.

Step 3: Assist your children with putting the witch into the acetone, feet first. Then watch as the witch melts, just like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. As your children watch, you can all say in your best witch voices, "I'm melting, I'm melting."

Step 4: When the witch has totally melted, help your children reach into the acetone (with the rubber gloves still on) and pull out the goo. Then have your kids mold it into any shape -- when it dries they will have a statue.

What Happened?

Similar to salt dissolving in water, polystyrene foam dissolves in acetone. The foam in the cup holds millions of tiny pockets of air. This makes the cup a great insulator, keeping your hot chocolate warm on cold days. When the foam dissolves in the acetone, the air is released, and a sticky goo results. When the foam goo hardens, it doesn't have air pockets anymore.

Keep reading to have your kids learn what happens when you baking soda and vinegar are combined.

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