What is Non-Newtonian Fluid? (6th November 2017)

This term, KS3/4 Science students researched the properties of non-Newtonian fluid with one student (Josh) making a large portion of it using cornstarch dissolved in water.

All the students found out that non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose viscosity is variable based on applied stress or force. The behaviour of Newtonian fluids, like water, can be described exclusively by temperature and pressure. However, the physical behaviour of non-Newtonian fluid depends on the forces acting on it from second to second.

Some of the techniques used by the students to research it's properties included:

  • Luke and Cameron experimented by punching a bucket full of non-Newtonian fluid. Their conclusion was: 'the stress introduced by the incoming force causes the atoms in the fluid to rearrange in such a way that it behaves like a solid. Your hand will not go through. If you shove your hand into the fluid slowly, however, it will penetrate successfully. If you pull your hand out abruptly, it will again behave like a solid, and you can literally pull a bucket of the fluid out of its container in this way.'
  • Oliver and Denham were amazed to see how cornstarch water can bend.
  • Tyler, Harvey and Conner tried really hard to mould different figures using the fluid however all the figures magically changed back to liquid as they stopped applying any pressure.

Josh was awarded Scientist of the Week for his great attitude to Science and brilliant laboratory skills. He said that “Non-Newtonian fluids help us understand the wide variety of fluids that exist in the physical world.”