Try Water Science Trickery! Activity

3.8 based on 60 ratings
Updated on Sep 21, 2011

Who doesn't love a good magic trick? Demonstrate this entertaining "illusion" to your child and educate her about water pressure at the same time! You will make it look like a single piece of card is holding an entire cup of water in a glass. Your child will be excited to learn about the science of air and water pressure, the logic behind this wizardry. A word to the wise: This experiment can get a bit wet, so it is probably best to perform this spell in a kitchen or bathroom, where scientist slip-ups can easily be mopped up.

What You Need:

  • Glass
  • Water
  • Piece of card or postcard
  • Jug
  • Food coloring (this will make it easier to see the experiment, but is optional)

What You Do:

  1. Have your child put water in the jug and add some food coloring, if desired.
  2. Ask your child to pour the water into the glass all the way to the top.
  3. Put the card on the glass and holding your hand over it quickly turn the glass upside down.
  4. Now for the fun part: Remove your hand. The card will look as though it is "holding" the water in the glass!
  5. Get your child to try the trick herself! What does she think has happened?

What's Going On?

The card is not the force that is keeping the water in the glass. It is the pressures on the card from the water and the air on the other side of it!

The pressure of the water in the glass on the piece of card is much less than the pressure of air below the piece of card. This keeps the postcard firmly pressed on the glass so that no water can flow out.


Ask your child what she thinks would happen if she repeated the experiment with an empty glass. What about a glass that is half full of water? Ask your child to try it out and to explain the science behind her results.

Shaheen Bilgrami has been writing and editing children's books for over twelve years. Her books have been published all over the world.

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