Layering Liquids: Explore Density Science Activity

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Updated on Mar 25, 2016

Density, which is defined as mass per unit of volume is a critical scientific concept to understand and can be visually demonstrated. The mixture of oil and water is an example of two liquids that have different densities, so they remain separate when poured into a cup. This project will illustrate this phenomenon. Your child will use different liquids and see how they react with water.

What You Need:

  • Tall clear cup
  • Plastic cups
  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Turkey baster
  • Blue Dawn dish soap
  • Honey
  • Light corn syrup
  • Blue food coloring
  • Vegetable oil

What You Do:

  1. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a plastic cup and place a few drops of blue food coloring into the cup until the liquid turns dark blue. Pour some water into a second plastic cup, and place green food coloring into the cup. Pour some corn syrup into a third cup and pour orange food coloring into it.
  2. Pour a thin layer of honey into the tall clear cup.
  3. Ask your child to slowly pour the corn syrup into the tall cup.
  4. Next, help your child add the dish soap mixture into the middle of the tall cup.
  5. Add the water to the tall cup using the turkey baster.
  6. Next, pour the vegetable oil into the tall cup.
  7. Lastly, add the rubbing alcohol into the tall cup using the baster. You should now have 6 different layers of liquid.

What's Happening?

You’ll notice that the liquids don’t mix with each other! This is because they each have a different density. Corn syrup: 1.37. Water with food coloring: 1.00. Rubbing alcohol: 0.87. Dish soap: 1.03. Honey: 1.36. Vegetable Oil: 0.91. The varying densities allow you to form layers of liquids on top of each other, creating the visually stimulating display in your glass.

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