3 Water Science Experiments

Barbara Mascareno
water experiment

While water exists as a solid, liquid, and gas, it is a fascinating molecule. Before you take a drink of water, think about what's inside of it. Water is composed of tiny atoms of two hydrogen atoms and one atom of oxygen. Did you know these small elements are the forces that make water a unique compound on Earth?

Making Rain Clouds

rain cloud experiment

You might've seen condensation on a cold water glass as little droplets. Did you know this same effect is in clouds? In making a rain cloud, you'll observe how moisture builds up in clouds. This experiment represents how clouds (white shaving cream) and the blue drops (rain droplets) interact as pressure builds and moisture is released from clouds. For a preschooler or 2nd grader, the concept of pressure is too abstract to demonstrate. A rain cloud like this experiment is a good visual representation of pressure and moisture.

  • Grade level: PreK-2
  • Time: 30 minutes

Materials

  • Mason jar
  • White shaving cream
  • Blue food dye

Instructions

  1. Fill the Mason jar with about 600 mL water.
  2. Spread white shaving cream on top of the water.
  3. Inject drops of blue dye into the shaving cream.
  4. Watch as the dye slowly trickles down from the 'cloud' to the 'pond.'
  5. After experimenting, it's safe to dispose of down the drain.

What do you think was happening to the dye as it was moving through the 'clouds'?

Precipitation is another way to look at rain, snow, or sleet. After a cloudy, rainy day, the sun comes out and clouds disappear. Since there was enough pressure in the air to squeeze the rain out of the clouds, it falls to Earth as drops of rain. How magnificent is a rainy day.

Creating a Path of Walking Water

walking water

Does water walk from one place to another? While in this experiment, it may seem like it does, you might be surprised the phenomenon behind it. By adding a medium as a mechanism for water to move, you will experience how water molecules work together to advance from one cup to another.

Indeed, seeing is believing. In creating a step pattern with the books, water has a little help from gravity to transcend from a downward to an upward position. This effect is called capillary action and it happens because of the affinity of water to other water molecules. In other words, water molecules naturally like to be with other water molecules.

  • Grade level: K-3
  • Time frame: One hour prep and 24-hour observation

Materials

  • Small pieces of paper towels (three)
  • Three small clear plastic cups
  • Measuring cup
  • Mixing spoon
  • Color dyes (green, red and yellow)
  • Two books about the same width

Instructions

  1. Pour about 100 mL of water into one cup.
  2. Pour about 50 mL of water to the other two cups.
  3. Add green food coloring to the 100 mL cup.
  4. Add red food coloring to one of the 50 mL cups.
  5. Repeat for the yellow food coloring.
  6. Stack the books on top of each other slightly off center.
  7. Gently place the green cup at the very top of the book.
  8. Put the red cup on the next 'step' of the other book.
  9. Lastly, place the yellow cup at the bottom.
  10. Slowly insert a paper towel strip going from the green cup to the red cup.
  11. Next, slowly place another strip of paper towel from the red to the yellow cup.
  12. Watch as the color moves from one paper towel to another.
  13. Leave it in a secure area overnight.
  14. After your observations, it's safe to dispose down the drain and to recycle your paper towels and cups.

Were you able to see how the water with the help of color dye was able to walk along the paper towels?

As a result of how water molecules attach to one another and the paper towel, you might've experienced the movement of water. Although it may not happen rapidly, water does transfer from one cup to another. It is essential to look at your experiment the next day to see how much the water progressed overnight.

Challenge

  • Add more cups of water and books to see how the water 'walks' from one cup to another.
  • Have fun mixing colors by using different color variations of dyes.
  • Test different types of paper towel brands.

Defining the Bending Abilities of Water

bending water

Water bends? How is this possible? Besides having water coming out of a hose or a faucet, water has a unique property called polarity. You might think that water follows the form of whatever shape it can take. In reality, water molecules have distinctive characteristics of negative and positive charges. In the presence of static forces, these charges tend to behave differently. For example, if you rub a balloon in your hair, the static electricity can help you lift a piece of paper with the balloon. The same effect occurs between water molecules in the presence of a static balloon.

  • Grade level: 8 -12
  • Time: 30 minutes

Materials

  • Balloon
  • String
  • Wool gloves
  • Hose or faucet

Instructions

  1. If you haven't done so, wash the wool gloves with laundry detergent without any softener.
  2. Let them dry overnight or place in a dryer without a dryer sheet at high setting until dry.
  3. Blow up the balloon and tie it with a string; secure your balloon.
  4. Let a small amount of water trickle down from a faucet.
  5. Rub gloves together as fast as you can.
  6. Put on one of the gloves and rub it upon the balloon.
  7. Make sure it's static; put the balloon close to a piece of paper.
  8. Rub the balloon again with the glove.
  9. Place the balloon close to the water stream, gently.
  10. Watch as the water 'bends' or moves close to the balloon.

Was it fascinating to see how water 'bends' to force it's attracted to on the balloon?

To better observe the effect, always make sure to have a small trickle of water next to a balloon. Interestingly, the charges from the balloon were attracted to the negative charges of the water.

Think About It

Water molecules working together produce a powerful natural effect. Whether it is rain coming from clouds as condensation or the capillary action of water adhering to surfaces, water is the driving force in nature for life on Earth. More captivating than seeing water 'walk' or 'bend' it is essential to realize the significance of how charges make a difference. Next time you take a closer look at your water bottle or cup, think about its incredible properties.

3 Water Science Experiments