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Make your own Fluffy Ocean Slime

In Northern Ireland, we have a truly stunning coastline. True, we don’t always have the weather we would like, but as Alfred Wainwright once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.” We have a range of beaches, from pebbled beaches beside busy harbours in Warrenpoint, a 6,000-year- old sand dune system in Murlough Nature Reserve and vast expanses of sand at Benone Beaches from Downhill to Magilligan Point, super rockpools at Ballywalter Beach and views to Rathlin Island from Ballycastle Beach, a family favourite of ours. There are of course many more beautiful beaches to get exploring.

So why is the coastline and the ocean so important? Around 97% of all water is in the oceans and they cover around 71% of Earth’s surface. The coastline forms where these oceans meet the land, which are often major fishing grounds, home to extensive seaweed forests, microscopic plants, nursery and feeding grounds for all kinds of marine animals and thus massive amounts of biological productivity. The water volume of the oceans is roughly 1370,000,000 cubic km – an absolutely immense volume of water. Since life exists throughout this water, the oceans are home to the single largest repository of organisms on the planet. Bacteria to fungi, plants and animals of all sizes, shapes and colours you can imagine. All of these organisms have to be able to live in salt water, many at massive pressure ranges capable of diving from shallow water in to the deep waters for hours at a time.

The oceans are separated into four main divisions: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Arctic, while the seas are smaller bodies of water connecting them. The most well- known seas include the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Baltic and Dead Sea. How many more can you think of?

Over 80% of the Southern Hemisphere is covered in ocean, while only 61% of the Northern Hemisphere is, where most of the planets’ landmasses occur. You can find mountains and volcanoes on the bottom of oceans though. From the shallow continental shelf just where the land falls away into the ocean, forming the continental slopes, the earth’s floor stretches into vast abyssal plains, broken by submarine ridges, mountain ranges and seamounts, and deep narrow troughs, rent into the earth’s crust, called trenches. The Pacific Ocean is the biggest ocean, surrounded by the Pacific Ring of Fire, a large number of active volcanoes. This is where the world’s largest fully underwater volcano is – Tamu Massif. It is in the northwest of the Pacific Ocean, 990m from Japan and formed around 145 million years ago. It’s also home to the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano which erupted in January 2022 in such a massive blast it sent a tsunami around the world and the blast could be heard in Alaska, over 6000 miles away! Have a go at making your own ocean slime, add some sea creatures and make it fluffy, if you like, with adding shaving foam (it’s actually less messy this way!).

Fluffy Ocean Slime

You’ll need: 1-2 cups shaving foam, blue food colouring, 1⁄4 cup of clear/white PVA glue, 1⁄2 tablespoon of saline solution, 1⁄4 tsp baking soda

What to do:

Measure 1-2 heaping cups of shaving cream into a bowl and 1-2 drops of food colouring. You can also experiment with using less shaving cream for different textures. Add in the 1⁄4 cup of glue and mix gently.

Then add 1⁄4 tsp of baking soda and 1⁄2 tablespoon of the saline solution (the slime activator) to the mixture and start whipping. You’ll need to mix it lots and it will be tiring, so get an adult to help out.

Once you get the mixture thoroughly mixed, use your hands to start kneading your slime. It will appear stringy at first but just work it around with your hands and you will notice the consistency changes.

SLIME TIP: Kneading the slime really helps to improve its consistency. The trick with this slime is to put a few drops of the saline solution onto your hands before picking up the slime. Remember: although adding more activator (saline solution) reduces the stickiness, it will eventually create a stiffer slime. You can always add but you can’t take away.

Dr Karen Mooney is a scientist who specialises in freshwater and marine systems and sustainable development. She runs educational consultancy, The Science Room. Follow her on Facebook ‘The Science Room’ and Instagram @thescienceroom_ni