Slime sessions soothe teens' stress

Jan 21, 2020

The Big Bang Fair introduces 'Slime Sessions' to help young people explore STEM with the bonus of helping them to de-stress – calming chemistry in action.

Slime is still big. Just ask any parent: children are following the thousands of YouTube tutorials and DIY recipes available online and inadvertently redecorating millions of homes around the world in a mixture of glue, corn starch, food colouring and often an array of sequins and colourful glitter. The sticky, stretchy compound can also have therapeutic and calming qualities and to test this, an expert, working with The Big Bang Fair conducted an experiment which found that, on average, the young people who took part experienced a 11% decrease in stress levels, with up to 39% in some cases.  

An estimated 1 in 10 young people struggle with mental health problems1 and finding ways to relax – from reading a book to gentle exercise to doing something creative – can help improve young people’s wellbeing.  To offer a fun, alternative method, The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair challenged engineer Professor Brendan Walker to run an experiment to test whether slime might have a positive effect on young people’s wellbeing and focus. 

THE SLIME SESSION EXPERIMENT AND RESULTS

The experiment started with young people making the slime by mixing PVA glue, corn starch and food colouring. Professor Walker, an engineer who runs a practice specialising in measuring emotional and physiological responses, then used Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensors to measure fluctuations in pupils’ sweat levels through a series of tasks, such as mental arithmetic, whilst playing with slime and the same series of task again without it.

The results of the experiment revealed an average decrease in stress measured in this way of around 11%, with some pupils showing up to 39% decrease. In some cases, playing with slime almost completely cancelled out the stress caused by a difficult cognitive task. This suggests that playing with slime significantly relaxes you in a stressful situation.

Professor Brendan Walker said, “Having heard of the number of children who struggle with pressures at school and throughout their day to day life, I was delighted to team up with The Big Bang Fair to run the Slime Session experiment. Slime is a form of sensory play and stress reliever, so any children, or even adults, who create and play with slime, are unknowingly releasing endorphins. In turn this can have a calming effect on our body and improve our concentration levels, which is very important when trying to be productive in a learning environment. From the results we can visibly see the introduction of a slime session, either at school or home, can have a positive change so I’d definitely encourage teachers, parents and pupils to have a go – it’s great fun too!”

Christian Nnabugwu, a science teacher and friend of The Big Bang Fair, said: “As teachers, we see the pressures our young people face first hand, so hearing that the Slime Sessions resulted in calmer and less stressed young people is definitely something I would be interested to explore with my pupils. It’s also a fun and exciting way to explore further the important role chemistry plays in our daily lives. I imagine parents, who have spent the last few years rolling their eyes at the mess this gooey substance can make will also see it in a new light now.”

Beth Elgood, Director of Communications at EngineeringUK, added: “Slime is a great example of DIY chemistry in action at the root of one of the world’s biggest trends amongst children. The Big Bang Fair is all about getting young people excited by STEM, and showcasing how STEM is not only part and parcel of our everyday lives but also at the heart of exciting future careers is really important to us at The Big Bang Fair.”

The Big Bang Fair is encouraging young people across the country to download its 'guide to create slime' so even more young people can get hands-on with STEM and enjoy slime's calming effects. To download the 'how to guide', please visit: www.thebigbangfair.co.uk/slime.

The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. The event is taking place from 13-16 March 2019 at The NEC in Birmingham.

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