Water experiments

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Water experiments
Age Range 3-5 (PreK-K), 5-8 (grades 1-2), 8-11 (grades 3-5)
Group Size medium (6-20)
Setting indoors, outdoors
Setup Time medium (6-30 min)
Duration medium (11-30 min)
Subjects water
Key terms water tension, water displacement
Materials paper clips, film canisters, pennies, eye droppers, plastic sandwich bags, sharpened pencils
Presentation Style demonstration, interactive, student led

Brief Description

Students will participate in water experiments that demonstrate water tension and water displacement.

This Is How You Play

Water on pennies

  1. Each student gets a penny. Due to the amount of supplies I have, there were enough droppers so that students could work in pairs.
  2. Ask students to hypothesize (a scientific guess) how many drops of water can stay on top of a penny before it flows over the side.

Water displacement in film canisters

  1. Due to the amount of paper clips (or any other small metal object) needed for this experiment, I recommend making this a demo.
  2. Fill one film canister to the brim
  3. Ask students to hypothesize how many paper clips they think can fit in the film canister without the water overflowing.

Surface tension with paper clips

  1. Demo this activity before letting students work on their own
  2. Ask them if they think certain objects can float on the water
  3. Remind them how many paper clips fell to the bottom of the film canister in the previous experiment
  4. Slowly and gently place a paper clip on the surface of the water. Water tension prevents the paper clip from falling to the bottom enough though it is solid metal.
  5. Give students an opportunity to also try to place a paperclip on the surface of the water.

Popping plastic bags full of water

  1. Demo this activity before letting students work in pairs
  2. Fill a plastic lunch bag with water
  3. Forcefully stab a sharpened pencil through the entirety of the bag. If done fast enough, the pencil will still through both sides of the bag without popping the bag or causing making leaks.
  4. Many pencils can be stuck through one bag.
  5. There should be enough pencils and bags for students to work in pairs.

Using a positively charged balloon to attract water

  1. Water has a net zero charge (because water is pressing on all sides of each other).
  2. Charge a balloon by rubbing it vigorously on your head. You have positively charged the balloon and it will now attract the zero charged water.
  3. Hold the balloon up to a small, solid stream of water from the sink.
  4. The balloon should bend the water because it attracts the water!


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