Experiment with Pumps
Your child knows how to get water from the bathroom sink. But does he know how that water gets there? Defy gravity as you explore pumps-- capable of moving water up, not down. You'll only need a few household items!
What You Need:
- 2 short tubs, preferably square or rectangular
- Food coloring
- Eyedroppers, also known as medicine droppers or pipettes
- Spoons or scoops
- 4 clear liquid soap pumps
What You Do:
- Before introducing the activities in this science experience, pour a glass of water for your child from a pitcher. Talk about how the water always goes down from the pitcher—not up, not sideways, but down every time.
- Introduce the word gravity, a force that works to pull things to the earth.
- Use a pump, such as a liquid soap pump, to show your child that the liquid inside must go up (from the bottom of the container through the tube to the opening) to come out. Ask your child how this position compares to the way he holds a bottle when pouring liquid out. How can it be that a liquid from a pump would shoot up, not flow down?
- Now, you're ready to set up the activity! Fill one of the tubs with water and place them side by side for minimum spillage. Have your child pick a color and use the food coloring to dye the water. Not only does a little color make any activity more exciting, but it makes the water (and therefore the science) easier to see!
- Give your child the task of moving water from one tub to the other.
- Provide some spoons or scoops to work with first, then make eyedroppers available (show your child how to use them if necessary), and finally, introduce the clear pumps.
- Ask your child:
- What tool works to transfer the water?
- What tool is easiest to use?
- What tool is quickest?
- Who or what is doing the work to move the water? (For instance, we use our muscles to lift up the water with the spoons, and gravity does the work to make it fall into the second container.)
Voila! You've now introduced your child to some key concepts in Physics and unlocked the mysteries of the bathroom sink — not bad for a day's play.