Lava lamp with oil and water

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Lava lamp with oil and water
Age Range 3-5 (PreK-K), 5-8 (grades 1-2), 8-11 (grades 3-5)
Group Size small (1-5), medium (6-20)
Setting indoors
Setup Time medium (6-30 min)
Duration medium (11-30 min)
Subjects states of matter, water
Key terms density
Materials water, oil, test tubes, alka seltzer tablets, food coloring
Alias oil and water experiment
Presentation Style interactive, student led

Brief Description

Student will observe how water and oil don't mix. Add an alka seltzer tablet and you have a rudimentary lava lamp!

Scientific Background

Oil and water do not mix. A tablespoon of water is heavier than a tablespoon of oil. This is the same effect observed when putting a cork or a rubber ducky into water- they float! Oil molecules are also hydrophobic (from the Greek meaning fear of water). Most familiar oils do not dissolve in water, instead the molecules cluster toward each other and then float up to the surface.Food coloring will mix with water but not with oil.

This Is How You Play

  1. Fill test tubes with oil and colored water.
  2. Let students drop food coloring on the oil and observe.
  3. Let students drop a piece of an alka seltzer tablet into the tube. Watch the mini lava lamp go!

See Also


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