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Putty is elastic, or able to be stretched.

Courtesy of Puttyworld

STANDARDS

NGSS: Core Idea: ETS1.A

CCSS: Writing: 3.C, Speaking & Listening: 4

TEKS: Science: 3.5A, 4.5A, 5.5A; ELA: 3.9D, 3.12B, 4.9D, 4.12B, 5.9D, 5.12B, 6.9B, 6.11B

Crazy Putty

How a classic kids’ toy from the 1950s got a weird and wacky makeover

Courtesy of Puttyworld

Stretch it, shape it, squish it! Putty became a favorite toy back in the 1950s. But kids back then wouldn’t recognize the product that’s sold today. Early versions of putty came in just a few boring hues. Now it exists in every color of the rainbow—and then some! 

There’s a putty that glows in the dark and one that sparkles like stars. One putty even changes color when you touch it! All this variety has made putty more popular than ever. 

If you love playing with this tricked-out goop, you should thank Aaron Muderick. He’s the inventor behind Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty. Here’s how he helped spark a modern putty craze. 

Stretch it, shape it, squish it! Putty became a favorite toy back in the 1950s. But kids back then wouldn’t recognize the product sold today. Early types of putty came in just a few boring hues. Now it exists in every color of the rainbow, and then some!

One putty glows in the dark. One sparkles like stars. One putty even changes color when you touch it! There’s so much variety. It’s made putty more popular than ever. 

Many kids love playing with this cool goop. They should thank Aaron Muderick. He’s an inventor. He created Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty. Here’s how he helped spark a new putty craze. 

Courtesy of Puttyworld

Small iron filings in this putty make it magnetic.

Studying Putty

Muderick used to be a computer scientist. While he was working, he would fiddle with toys to help him think. “I had an impressive collection,” Muderick says. His favorite was a can of putty. But it came in just one drab color, and it dried out over time. Muderick set out to make something better. 

First, he needed to learn how putty was made. “I went to the place with all the answers—the library,” he says. Muderick discovered that putty’s main ingredient is a rubberlike material called silicone. It’s lightweight, long lasting, and elastic. That means it’s easy to stretch and shape. 

Unfortunately, silicone is expensive. So companies often replace some of the silicone with cheaper ingredients. That makes their putties cost less to produce, but it also makes them dull and dry. Muderick decided to look for new materials to use for his putty.

Muderick used to be a computer scientist. He’d fiddle with toys to help him think at work. “I had an impressive collection,” Muderick says. His favorite was a can of putty. But it came in just one drab color. And it dried out over time. Muderick set out to make something better. 

First, he needed to learn how putty was made. “I went to the place with all the answers, the library,” he says. Muderick discovered putty’s main ingredient. It’s a rubberlike material called silicone. It’s lightweight and long lasting. It’s also elastic. That means it’s easy to stretch and shape. 

But silicone is expensive. So putty companies often replace some silicone with cheaper materials. That makes their putties cost less to make. But it also makes them dull and dry. Muderick decided to look for new materials to use in his putty.

Courtesy of Puttyworld

Putty’s structure is strong enough to temporarily hold its shape.

Testing New Ideas

Muderick had several criteria for making a better putty. His ingredients needed to help putty stay soft and stretchy. They also had to support brilliant colors. Muderick faced constraints too. The ingredients couldn’t be toxic or expensive. 

Muderick talked to scientists to learn what substances he could add to his putty. Then he tested different materials to see how they changed the putty’s properties.

Adding water made the putties sticky and goopy. Muderick tried adding fine sand, but it made the color dull. After years of testing, he finally found a winning formula—which he wants to keep a secret!

Today, at his factory in Pennsylvania, Muderick adjusts his recipe by adding materials with cool effects. He adds tiny metal bits to one putty. If you hold a magnet close, it attracts the putty. In another, Muderick uses only clear ingredients. That putty is almost see-through!  “I wanted to make putties that were exciting,” says Muderick. Mission accomplished!

Muderick had several criteria for making a better putty. His ingredients needed to help putty stay soft and stretchy. He had to be able to add bright colors. Muderick faced constraints too. The ingredients couldn’t be toxic or cost too much. 

Muderick talked to scientists. He learned what substances he could add to his putty. Then he tested different materials. He wanted to see how they changed the putty’s properties.

Adding water made the putties sticky and goopy. Muderick tried adding fine sand. But it made the color dull. He tinkered with his recipe for years. Then he finally found a winning formula. He wants to keep it a secret!

Today, Muderick has a factory in Pennsylvania. There, he adjusts his recipe. Muderick adds materials with cool effects. He mixes tiny metal bits into one putty. A magnet attracts the putty if you hold it close. In another, Muderick uses only clear ingredients. That putty is almost see-through!  “I wanted to make putties that were exciting,” says Muderick. Mission accomplished!

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