DIY Science: Melting Pumpkins

This week at the Greensboro Science Center, we are going to melt pumpkins! Play-Doh pumpkins, that is!

For this experiment you will need:

  • A tablespoon
  • 4 Tbsp. washable kid-friendly paint
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • Measuring cup
  • Construction paper (optional)
  • Scissors (only needed for construction paper)
  • Mixing bowl
  • A plate or platter
  • Paper towels for cleanup


Begin this experiment by combining 4 tablespoons of washable kid paint and 1 tablespoon of water into your mixing bowl.

Add ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¼ cup of baking soda to the paint and water mixture.

We found our hands to be the most effective way to combine the ingredients together! Continue mixing until all of your ingredients are thoroughly combined. You will know that your dough is ready if it has a consistency similar to  Play-Doh.


Next, it is time to form your pumpkins by rolling the dough into balls with your hands. (There will be dough residue left on your hands. However, you will find that it washes off quickly and easily with a little soap!) 

With Halloween right around the corner, we decided it would be fun to make our dough into Jack-O-Lanterns by cutting out eyes, a nose, and a mouth from black construction paper. Lay the shapes on top of the dough ball in whatever way you choose. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Finally, it is time to “melt” your dough-pumpkin. Take your vinegar and slowly drip it onto your pumpkin creation, and watch what happens! You will notice that the vinegar causes a chemical reaction with the baking soda in the dough, and therefore causes the dough- pumpkin to “melt”.

What’s the Science? Don’t worry, the bubbles are just carbon dioxide, (the same gas we exhale) and is not dangerous. Carbon dioxide is formed, along with water, when the vinegar (an acid) is combined with the baking soda (a base). The cornstarch and water combine to make a mixture, which could turn into more of a slimy consistency if you add too much water to the cornstarch. However, that could be fun to play with as well!


This entry was posted in DIY Science, Science Explained by greensborosciencecenter. Bookmark the permalink.

About greensborosciencecenter

The Greensboro Science Center offers three fascinating attractions in one wild destination! We are the only facility in North Carolina that offers an aquarium, museum, and zoo. Spend the day with us and come nose to beak with playful penguins, get eye to eye with awesome otters, explore the human body, experience Mother Nature’s fury and fun, and encounter exotic animals like gibbons, meerkats, and lemurs!

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