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How to create a black hole in less than 10 minutes with Sharpies, an oven, and a plastic cup

April 15, 2020 2 min read

This artistic version of a black hole from Sassafras Science is made with only a plastic cup, some sharpie markers, foil, and a bit of heat.

So, we didn't actually visit a black hole on our astronomy leg. As you will see in a few moments, that would have been a bit too dangerous, even for a Sassafras.

But we did learn about them and . . . we'll we don't want to spoil the whole story. You'll have to read our astronomy leg to see how it all came about, but for today, we wanted to have one of our local experts, Arty Stone, come by and share a bit about black holes along with a super fun activity!

Let's dig in...

A bit about black holes

Hi, folks! I'm Arty Stone, tech-gamer and science-lover. Blaine and Tracey asked me to come by and share a bit about black holes along with a STEAM activity I share with kiddos all the time.

Black holes are a bit of a mystery, but we do know that these are regions of space
where the gravity is so strong that it sucks in everything, including light. Think of them as space whirlpools, not space vacuums.

Black holes are invisible, but we can spot them based on what goes on around them. You see everything around them swirls and gets sucked in. This creates a disc of particles that collects around the black hole. Black holes also have a quasar, which is a jet of super-hot gas that shoots out above and below the black hole.

Albert Einstein initially predicted the existence of black holes with his theory of relativity, but it was Stephen Hawking who eventually used math to prove their existence.

So now that we all understand a bit more about black holes, let's make one, or rather let's make an artistic version of one!

How to create an artistic version of a black hole

You will need:

  • 1 Plastic cup
  • Sharpie markers  (Note—Using colors like black, purple, and shades of blue give a nice finished product.)
  • A pan
  • Spray oil
  • Foil
  • Access to an oven 

To make your version of a black hole, here's what you do:

  1. Have the students color concentric rings around the cup in Sharpie marker in different colors. Have them color the bottom of the cup completely black as this will be the center of their black hole.
  2. As they work, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the pan with foil. Then, spray a bit of oil on the foil so the cups won't stick.
  3. Once the students are done coloring the entire cup, have them place the colored cups on the foil-lined pan upside down. In other words, the top will be on the foil and the black bottom will be facing up.
  4. Put the pan in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until the cups melt and collapse.
  5. Remove the pan and then using a heat resistant glove or a spatula, gently pat the black holes down to make sure they are almost completely flattened.

Let the black holes cool before the students touch them.

Grab a cup and a few Sharpies to make an artistic version of a black hole in this STEAM activity.

Wrapping it up

We have made these you guys and you need to try it out! It's so much fun, you'll want to do this STEAM activity over and over again.

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