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Spangler Sunday: Four Ways to Make Spooky Halloween Sounds

Halloween is all about things that glow in the dark, things that are slimy, things that bubble and boil, but Halloween isn’t Halloween without spooky, eerie sounds.

If you are planning a Halloween party at school or in your home, here are some ideas to set the sound stage.

Screaming Balloons

**Caution! This experiment uses small pieces, so be very careful if you are doing this activity with young children. Adults should blow up the balloons and tie them off before giving to children.

This is an easy experiment you can do with a balloon and a hex nut. If you are doing this with a large group, make sure to get enough supplies so everyone can go home with a screaming balloon.

balFirst, you’ll need good quality latex balloons (9” to 11” in size) and some ¼” hex nuts from the hardware store.

Squeeze the hex nut through the mouth of the balloon. Make sure that the hex nut goes all the way into the balloon so that there is no danger of it being sucked out while blowing up the balloon. Tilt the balloon down to keep the hex nut inside. Blow up the balloon, but be careful not to over inflate the balloon as it will easily burst. Tie off the balloon and you’re ready to go.

Grip the balloon at the stem end as you would a bowling ball. The neck of the balloon will be in your palm and your fingers and thumb will extend down the sides of the balloon. While holding the balloon, palm down, swirl it in a circular motion. The hex nut may bounce around at first, but it will soon begin to roll around the inside of the balloon. What is that sound? Could the balloon be screaming? Once the hex nut begins to spin, use your other hand to stabilize the balloon. Your hex nut should continue to spin for 10 seconds or more.

More information on the science of the screaming balloon click here.

Screaming Cup

For this experiment, you will need a large plastic cup, a piece of string (24”) and water.

Start by poking a hole in the bottom of the cup just large enough to thread the piece of string. Thread the string through the hole and tie a knot or two at the end of the string to hold the string in place. Wet the string. Holding the cup in one hand, pinch the string between your thumb and forefinger. Squeeze tightly on the string as you slide your thumb and forefinger down the string. With practice, and a little patience, the string will “stick and slide” between your fingers causing a “screaming” sound. Oh, you’ll know when you’ve got it down to a science!

More information on the science of the screaming cup click here.

Whirly Sound Hose or Singing Tube

steveAt first glance, it looks like your ordinary plastic tube. Hold one end of the tube and twirl the other end in a circle over your head. It’s music to your ears! The “Singing Tube” is a popular and inexpensive item in toy stores. There is really nothing to it – a corrugated plastic tube measuring about 3 feet long and 2 inches in diameter. You can also look at the hardware store for different sizes of corrugated plastic tubes.

Spin the tube faster and notice how the pitch of the note goes up. Fast twirling creates high pitch notes and slower twirling creates lower notes. Amazing!

The Bag “Whirly”

Attach a plastic bag, such as a garbage bag or shopping bag to the end of your Sound Hose with tape or a rubber band. With your mouth a few millimeters from the Sound Hose, blow into the open end. The bag will inflate with just a few big breaths. Once the bag is inflated, twirl your Sound Hose. As the “music” plays from the hose, watch the bag deflate!

Not all plastic tubes sing. The tube must be corrugated on the inside. Why? The aerodynamics researchers in Japan put a whirly in a wind tunnel and used very tiny hot wire anemometers to measure the airflow near the corrugations. As the air flows first over one ridge then over a second it tumbles into a vortex. The faster the air flows through the tube, the higher the frequency of the sound produced by the vortex. When the frequency of the vortex matches one of the natural resonant frequencies of the tube it is amplified.

More information on the science behind the Whirly sound hose click here.

Guest blogger Susan Wells is the mom to two girls. She enjoys enriching her daughter’s education by finding the learning in everything. They especially enjoy science activities. She works as a blogger and social media strategist for Steve Spangler Science, a Colorado company dedicated to helping teachers and parents get children excited about science.

Make Bubbling, Spooky Halloween Cauldrons with Dry Ice

I have never been much of a Halloween fan, but after working with Steve Spangler for more than eight years, Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. I had no idea you could have so much fun with dry ice and warm water. If you are planning a Halloween party this season at home or helping plan a school party, dry ice is a must to create oozing and bubbling fun.

I have brought the following demonstrations into my daughter’s classrooms and performed them at Halloween parties for the past few years. I love to do these activities to watch the excitement and wonder in the children’s eyes. Okay, I also love it myself. The kids give me the excuse to play.

First, some background information on dry ice.

dryiceWhat is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. It doesn’t melt; it turns, instead, into carbon dioxide gas. Dry ice is extremely cold – 110F (-78 C). It can cause severe burns if it comes in contact with skin, so make sure to use gloves or tongs when handling it. When dry ice is dropped into water, carbon dioxide gas and water vapor are released as the dry ice “melts” in the water. The gas you see are tiny water droplets.

Where Can I Buy Dry Ice?

Before you can do any of the activities, you need to head to your local grocery store for dry ice. Not all grocery stores sell dry ice, so you may need to call around. Take a cooler and gloves with you to transport the dry ice home safely. Dry ice sells for around $1 a pound. If you are going to do several demonstrations, plan to purchase around 5 to 10 pounds.

Dry Ice Storage and Safety

Store the dry ice in your cooler, not fridge or freezer. It is at a lower temperature than your freezer and can lower the temperature in the freezer causing it to shut off. Or the dry ice may turn into a gas. The gas can build up inside the freezer and will eventually pop the door open. When doing your demonstrations, keep the dry ice in a closed cooler. I like to keep it on the floor behind my feet. The children (and any adults) will rush the table you are working on and do their best to be the closest to the demonstration. When I have done these activities for my daughter’s classes, I have been surrounded every time. It’s important to keep the dry ice in a safe place. Also keep a small hammer on hand to break apart the blocks of ice.

Disappearing Dry Ice

This is a good demonstration to show why it’s called dry ice. Take two plates, place a regular ice cube on one, and a piece of dry ice on the other. Keep both plates out of reach of the children. Ask the children what they think will happen to both ice cubes if left out. Check back in about an hour. The water ice cube will be a puddle of water. The dry ice cube plate will be empty. What happened to the dry ice? It’s made from some of the air that we breathe… it’s frozen carbon dioxide. The dry ice turned into invisible carbon dioxide gas that disappears into the air.

dryice1Smoking, Bubbling Spooky Fun

You will need a bowl or tall glass filled with warm water for this activity. I like to use graduated cylinders. They are tall, durable and not wide enough to allow a child to put their hand down inside and accidentally touch the dry ice. This is important, as the children will want to touch the water and vapor. Using gloves or tongs, place a piece of dry ice in the warm water. The dry ice will begin to turn into carbon dioxide gas and water vapor. The cloud is safe to touch, just don’t allow the children to put their hands near the dry ice. When the water cools down and the smoke slows down, replace the cold water with warm and add more dry ice. And yes, you will get cheers of “do it again!”


  1. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap like Dawn or Joy to your warm water and dry ice concoction. The soap in the water traps the carbon dioxide and water vapor in a bubble. The children will erupt into oohs and ahhs when they see the bubbles climb out of the cylinder of warm, soapy water and explode with a burst of “smoke” as they crawl over the edge. The children won’t be able to keep their hands away.
  2. Add a squirt of food coloring or tub tints to the water to make the demonstration more colorful. I love to do this. I set up three or more cylinders with different colors and let them go. This helps if you have a larger group allowing for 3-5 kids at each cylinder. Just make sure you have adult supervision at each station so cylinders do not get dumped over.
  3. To give the water an eerie glow, add a light stick in the water and turn off the lights.
  4. Put the dry ice and warm water in a dish and set it inside your jack-o-lantern.

Carbonate Apple Juice for Witches’ Brew

Fill a bowl or cauldron with apple juice. Use gloves or tongs to add a few large pieces of dry ice. Let the children watch the mixture bubble and burp as it gets carbonated by the dry ice. Wait until the dry ice is completely gone before serving the apple juice.

For more information on dry ice and for more activities head over to Steve Spangler Science.


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The Science of Light Sticks – Liquid Light

Just give the plastic light stick a little “snap” and a shake and the liquid inside begins to glow. Some people call it liquid light. Light sticks are more popular than ever and have become almost required apparel for Halloween to cast an eerie glow on the candy seekers. I always buy them for my girls to wear while trick or treating. Did you know you can learn a little science from light sticks? Light sticks are also a great and inexpensive teaching tool to learn how temperature affects the rate of the chemical reaction.

**Caution! This experiment requires the use of very warm water, which requires the assistance of an adult helper.

Take advantage of the holiday and stock up on some light sticks during the Halloween close-outs. You’ll need three light sticks of the same size and color for this experiment. You’ll also need two glass containers (coffee cups or beakers work well) and a darkened room.

In the following experiment, you’ll observe the differences in the brightness of the light given off from a light stick placed in hot water and and an identical light stick placed in cold water.

Spooky Halloween Slime Recipes

Welcome back to Spangler Science Saturdays in October. Halloween just isn’t Halloween at my house without a huge batch of slime. At this time of year, my daughters’ friends hang out at our house begging me to make slime with them. It’s sticky. It’s icky. It’s gooey. It’s a must-have at Halloween.

Making slime is also a great way to teach about the properties of a polymer… or a long chain of molecules. The molecules start out as a liquid in this slime recipe but are quickly hooked together with the introduction of the Borax. The Borax solution is the “cross-linker” in the creation of the Slime polymer. Borax molecules are like tiny paper clips that hook together the long chains of molecules making a slippery, gooey concoction known as Slime. Slime can either be made using Elmer’s Glue or a liquid called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA).

Click here for more information on the science of slime.

Elmer’s Glue Slime

Make Your Halloween Party Glow With Easy Ideas From Steve Spangler Science!

Do you love Halloween as much as I do? It is my favorite holiday…gorgeous fall weather, turning leaves, pumpkins, candy and glowing, bubbling activities.

Welcome to Spangler Science Saturdays with Steve Spangler Science at Mile High Mamas. Halloween is highly anticipated at Steve Spangler Science. We have an entire section dedicated to Halloween experiments and activities complete with how-to videos.

Today, we are focusing on activities that glow in the dark.

Halloween is all about spooky, creepy things that lurk in the dark. There’s nothing better than turning off the lights, bringing out glowing, mysterious and slimy materials to touch and watch. The kids will ooh and ahh. Whether you are planning a Halloween party, looking for unique decorations or just want to have some fun with your own kids at home, here are some glowing activities you can do.

Black Lights
Who knew you could have so much fun with a black light? A black light is a must for these activities. Black light is really ultra-violet light, which is naturally present as a component in sunlight. Ultra-violet wavelengths are very long with a very high frequency, and can be used to detect fluorescent material that would remain invisible under normal conditions. When you shine ultra-violet light on fluorescent material, it lights up with a beautiful bluish-green luminescence. Black lights come in all sizes from mini hand-held to large. You can find them in Halloween stores, hardware stores or online.

Glowing Halloween Pumpkins