A tall column of water hosting a myriad of colour changing bubbles, a visually captivating effect with sound, vibration and movement, the bubble tube has the ‘fish tank’ effect – that’s something which makes you want to stop and wonder. Most tubes are substantial in their presence from one to two metres tall. They create a large visual preference in any space.
All specialist bubble tubes are designed with safety in mind. Unlike many high street tubes, these are all low voltage and have substantial tube wall thickness. They are not unbreakable, but they are very tough and very safe.
I often deliberate the tactile stimulus of fibre optics, but bubble tubes emphasise the tactile element through vibration. Touching the tube is either something the student initiates, tolerates or resists. The majority of students will initiate and enjoy the sensation of the vibrating tube. However, some may need to be coaxed to experience the tactile sensation.
The flow of the bubbles creates a moving image and movement, which is more likely to engender a sustained period of visual contact. The colour change can also assist and prolong the level of visual awareness and fascination.
As a stimulation tool, the bubble tube is fascinating and will encourage many prerequisite skills, but some tubes have applications for more able students.
Interactive bubble tubes allow the practitioner or student to control the flow of bubbles and the colours in the tube by using remote coloured switches. Colour recognition, matching and sequencing can be fun. I use the book by Dr Seuss, ‘My Many Coloured Days’ and students only press their switch when we get to the page with their colour. This is not only good for recognising colour but also symbol recognition or ‘the same’ as it encourages turn taking, pausing and basic cause and effect skills.
The bubble tube can be a focus for students at many levels of understanding and learning. In an appropriate environment, it can be the centre of attention, an enchanting visual, tactile and sound experience. We often try to encourage a student to move up and onward, but is this one of those pieces of equipment which allows a student unadorned experience with incidental interaction, at their own speed, in their own time, maybe in their own world?