Teach kids about science with a simple science experiment that will leave kids curious and ready to experiment. This surface tension experiment uses a couple simple materials to help teach surface tension for kids in only 5 minutes! Use this surface tension experiments with kindergarten, pre-k, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade students. I love using simple activities to help kids start to understand bigger principles like this easy science lesson on surface tensions.
Surface tension experiment
Try this quick surface tensions experiment to teach children about surface tension for kids. Using just jars of water, cotton balls, and liquid dish soap you can make the scientific principle of tension easy for kids to understand. Use this surface tension experiments for kids of all ages from preschoolers, kindergartners, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, and grade 6 students. I love using hands-on exploration to make learning fun and show that science doesn’t have to be complicated; science is fun!
Surface tension for kids
Water molecules like to stick together. On the surface where the water meets the air, water molecules cling even more tightly to each other. This is called surface tension. To lower the surface tension of water, you can heat it up or add soap or detergent. These two things cause the attraction between the water molecules to lessen. In the case of the cotton balls, the structure of a cotton ball is lots of wound cotton fibers with tiny pockets of air between then. When the cotton ball first hits the cold water, it is lighter than the water and floats. Then, water starts to slowly creep into those air pockets and replace the air. This causes the cotton ball to eventually sink.
When the cotton ball hit the glass of hot water, the same thing happens as in the cold water, but at a faster rate. This is caused because the surface tension of the water is lower in this glass. This makes the water move into the cotton balls much faster. Try this experiment again by adding a couple drops of dish detergent to a glass of cold water. Compare the rate the cotton ball sinks to the plain cold water and/or the hot water. What are the results and why? You can, also, try the varying temperatures of water or use different types and amounts of soap.
Surface tension experiments
To complete this easy science experiment for kids all you need are a few simple materials you already have on hand:
- 2 or 3 glass jars (drinking glasses)
- 3+ cotton balls
- liquid dish detergent
Surface tension of water experiment
To try this surface tension project, fill one of the jars with cold water and another with hot water. Drop a cotton ball into each of the glasses at the same time. Notice what happens to the cotton balls. Do they sink or float? Does one sink faster than the other? Why? Here’s a hint: What you are observing is a result of the surface tension of water.
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