Science project

What Happens When Oil and Water Get Together?


  • Disposable cup
  • Water
  • Food color (any dark color)
  • Small funnel
  • Vegetable oil
  • Pencil and paper, and a crayon or colored pencil that matches the food color (alternatively: a camera)
  • One test tube with cap
  • Optional: some old newspaper and a smock

Experimental Procedure:

  1. You might want to do this experiment over a sink or some old newspaper, as it can get messy! (Also, a smock might be a good idea.)
  2. If you are using the paper-and-pencil option, use the pencil to draw a picture of the test tube on the paper.
  3. Fill the cup partway with water and put a few drops of the food color in it. Swirl it around until it’s well mixed.
  4. Use the funnel to fill the test tube halfway with the colored water.
  5. Add vegetable oil to the test tube.
  6. Hold the test tube still for a minute or two and observe what happens to the water and oil.
  7. Record and present results.

Terms/Concepts: fluids, convection, cumulus clouds, upwelling, density

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Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

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