#1 - The Disappearing Act
This activity demonstrates which substances really dissolve in water
and which are only suspended in it. If the substance has dissolved,
the solution (the mixture of water and the dissolved stuff) should
look the same throughout. The particles will have broken up and will
be spread evenly in the water. If the mixture stays cloudy, and the
particles hang there and then settle to the bottom, you've made a
"suspension" rather than a "solution."
5 drinking glasses, 1 teas. each of salt, flour, baking soda, sugar,
1. Fill the glasses with cold water.
2. Stir a spoonful of salt into the first glass
3. Stir a spoonful of flour into one glass, baking soda into another,
and so on.
4. Wait for a few minutes to see what happens.
#2 - Make Your Own Water Filter
This activity is one way to clean muddy
water. In many water treatment plants, dirty water is first allowed to
settle in a large basin and then is filtered through layers of sand
and gravel. This filtering method copies nature --- rainwater seeping
through the ground gets cleaned the same way.
paper coffee filter, funnel, charcoal or fine gravel, sand, muddy
water, a container
1. Place the coffee in the funnel.
2. Put a layer of crushed charcoal or gravel in the bottom of the
funnel. Make another layer of sand above it.
3. Pour the muddy water through your filter into the container. What
happens to the water? Is it clearer?
#3 - Center the Cork
This trick is guaranteed to drive your
a glass, some water, a cork
1. Fill an empty glass almost to the top with water.
2. Ask the kids to float the cork in the center of the glass. No
matter how hard they try to center the cork, it will drift to one
3. Gently pour in some more water so that the surface bulges over the
top edge of the glass. Place the cork in the water. Presto! It moves
to the center where the water level is highest -- on top of the bulge.
The water forms a convex surface -- the bulge -- because of surface
#4 - A Water Drop Lens
Have you ever tried using water drops to magnify small print and
sticky tape, a used stamp, small styrofoam tray, plastic wrap, eye
1. Tape the stamp that you want to magnify onto the styrofoam tray.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap so the stamp won't get wet.
2. With the eye dropper, place a few drops of water on the plastic
3. Experiment with different sizes of drops. Does the size of drops
change how they magnify? Water drops curve up like the curve on a
magnifying glass. They are miniature lenses.
#5 - Floating Needle
How can you make a needle float on water?
drop of vegetable oil, straight needle, tissue paper, bowl of water
1. Rub a little oil over the needle.
2. Place the paper carefully on top of the water.
3. Gently rest the needle on the paper. What happens to the paper and
The paper sinks because it quickly absorbs water through its tiny
tubes or fibers. Why does the needle float? Although it's made of
steel and should sink, it's held up by the invisible skin on the
#6 - Water On The Earth
This activity demonstrates how much of the
earth's water is fresh water.
2-liter plastic bottle, salt, green food coloring, yellow corn oil,
1. Put a few drops of green food coloring into the bottom of the
2. Pour water into the container until just past the base of the neck.
3. Add 2-3 tsp. of salt to the green water. Explain that this water
represents ocean water which is salty and cannot be used to drink or
water fresh water plants.
4. Slowly pour 60ml of corn oil on top of the salt water in the 2
liter bottle. Explain that the corn oil represents 3% of the fresh
water that is available on Earth. This is all the fresh water that is
available for drinking, plant use and all of our other fresh water
#7 - Mini Water Cycle
The purpose of this activity is for kids to
discover how water is cleaned using a mini water cycle.
16 oz. clear plastic cup, 3
drops of food coloring, 8 oz. warm water, ice cube, 8" square of
clear plastic wrap, rubber band, paper towel
1. Place the cup on the paper towel. Put the food coloring in the cup
and add the warm water.
2. Stretch the plastic tightly over the cup and secure with a rubber
3. Place the ice cube on top of the plastic wrap. Ask the kids what
they think will happen when warm vapor from the colored water hits the
cooler plastic above it (it will condense/form drops). What color will
the drops be? (clear) Why? (As water evaporates, the food coloring is
The kids have just seen how water is cleaned through the water cycle!
#8 - Alarming Aquifer
In this activity, kids will learn the parts
of an aquifer. An aquifer is a layer of rock, sand, or gravel beneath
the earth's surface that contains water.
clear plastic 1-liter bottle with spout and first 1/2" cut off,
sand topsoil, two transparent straws, washed pea gravel, water
1. Put the gravel on the bottom of the plastic bottle to a depth of 2
2. Position two straws upright in the gravel layer. While holding the
straws, pour 3 inches of sand on top of the gravel.
3. Add 1 to 2 inches of topsoil on top of the sand.
4. Slowly add water to saturate the sand and gravel. This water
becomes the groundwater. Note the water's movement through the sand
5. Suck the top end of one of the straws. Pinch the opening of the
straw closed. Observe the effect of the pumping action on the aquifer.
(The effect is similar to the effect of the pumping action of a well.)
6. Suck on the second straw and repeat the process. Note the effect on
the level of the groundwater.
7. Suck on the straws several times and observe any changes in the
#9 - Ice Cube Lifting
The objective of this activity is to learn
how salt lowers the freezing point of water.
glass of water filled,
6" long piece of string, three ice cubes, spoon, salt, 3 tbsp
each salt, sugar, and pepper.
1. Place one ice cube into the glass of water.
2. Lay one end of the string over the top surface of the ice cube.
3. Sprinkle sugar onto that end of the string and the area around it.
4. Wait 1 minute. Try to lift the ice cube out of the water with the
5. Take the ice cube out of the glass using a spoon. Put another ice
cube into the glass. Put one end of the string on top of the ice cube.
Sprinkle pepper onto that end of the string and the area around it.
Wait 1 minute. Try to lift the ice cube out of the water with the
6. Take the ice cube out of the glass. Put the last ice cube into the
glass. Put one end of the string on top of the ice cube. Sprinkle salt
onto that end of the string and the area around it. Wait 1 minute. Try
to lift the ice cube out of the water with the string.
How does it work? Only the salt lowers the freezing point, causing the
ice to melt. As the ice melts, enough heat leaves the ice cube to
freeze the string onto the cube. That is why salt (not sugar or
pepper) is sprinkled onto icy roads.
#10 - Making an Egg Float
The objective of this activity is to learn
how salt affects the buoyancy of water.
raw egg, hard-boiled egg,
glass of water, salt, tablespoon
1. Put the raw egg in the glass of water. Watch what happens. Take the
raw egg out of the glass.
2. Put the hard-boiled egg in the glass of water.
3. Add salt, one tablespoon at a time, until something happens to the
4. Once you have finished with step 3, take out the hard-boiled egg
and put the raw egg into the glass. What happens?
Salt makes the water heavier. As the salt water becomes heavier, the
egg is able to float. The key to floating is that the object (the egg)
has to weigh less than the water it displaces (takes the place of).
Adding salt makes the water heavier, so eventually the egg weighs less
than the salt water it displaces. The raw egg weighs less than the
hard-boiled egg, so it can float in both the tap water and the salt
#11 - The Water Bulge
This experiment will demonstrate how water
creates a "skin" that allows leaves and insects to float on
plastic 8 oz. glass, 8 oz.
of water, two drops of food coloring, 10 pennies or dimes, one piece
of cardboard, tape
1. Put two drops of food coloring into the water. Pour the water into
2. Fit the cardboard around the top of the glass, forming a collar.
Tape it in place. Hold the coins on the end of the cardboard and
gently slip them into the water.
3. Notice how the top of the water bulges out above the glass and
toward the cardboard.
4. Count the number of coins that you can add to the glass before the
Water molecules are attracted to each other, creating a tight bond.
This is called surface tension. Water molecules that are surrounded by
other molecules are attracted in all directions. But the molecules at
the surface do not have any water above them. They are strongly
attracted downward to the molecules below. This prevents the molecules
from spilling, even when the water level rises above the rim of the
glass. Eventually, the volume of water above the rim of the glass
becomes too great for the surface tension to hold, and the water