Floating Paper Clip
Have you ever seen a bug skate across the surface of water? This is made possible by the cohesion of water molecules on the surface of the water. When we say that water molecules are cohesive, we mean that they stick tightly to one another—so much so that they create surface tension. Because bugs weigh very little, they can rest their weight on the top of the water without breaking the tension—so to them, it is almost as if they’re standing on a solid surface! In this experiment, we’ll take something relatively heavy (a paperclip) and balance it on the surface of the water in order to demonstrate just how powerful surface tension can be.
Make a paperclip float in a bowl of water.
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