Experiment for Kids: Surface Tension

One of my favorite things is science.   I have found that even the simplest science experiments with my kids leads to unexpected discovery.

The funny thing about kids and science is that I THINK I am teaching one thing.

And then they go off on a tangent of curiosity and we end up somewhere completely unplanned.

Which is the point of experimentation!

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be writing about a series of science experiments from Workman Publishing.   Each is a simple experiment for kids that uses household items.

Experiment for Kids: Surface Tension

Water Surface Tension Experiment

Materials

  • Bowl of water
  • Black pepper
  • Bar of soap

Instructions

1.   Sprinkle black pepper on the water.

2.   Place finger in the water and watch what happens.

3.   Is your finger covered with pepper?

4.   Clean finger!

5.   Rub clean finger with soap.

6.   Place finger back in water to see what happens.

7.   Does the pepper FLEE from your finger?

WHY?

The soap didn’t change the pepper.   The soap changed the water’s surface tension.   This is why soap works!   Soap causes the water molecules to relax and not hold on to each other so tightly.   That is why soap cleans you and can get stains out of your clothes.

There is a printable version of this Surface Tension Experiment for Kids from Pop Bottle Science by Lynn Brunelle here.

Happy Experimenting!

10 Comments

  1. Science overwhelms me because it’s not a strong subject for me. Just as you said… your kids will follow their creativity and where science is concerned I am so worried they will go somewhere I don’t understand. (I have no problem admitting when I don’t know something. “Hmmm good question. Let’s see if we can figure out the answer together.” With science though, I am completely lost and I’m afraid I will teach them something that’s just flat out wrong.

    Any advice?

  2. Holly, when I was a little girl Mr. Rogers did this experiment on his show. It has stuck with me forever. Way cool that you are sharing it here. 🙂

  3. We just did this experiment this morning (before I read your post). It was a lot of fun and my preschooler loved it!

  4. I think many of us were scared silly in high school and college by science as it was presented as something complicated and required tons of studying. The truth is that most science is what kids do naturally…try to figure something out.

    My recommendation is to pick some simple experiments and just try them with your kid(s). They are fun to do and will lead to other questions that you can Google! haha. That is totally legal. You might get a kick out of my recent post What is Fire? which is here: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/2011/what-is-fire/ because that was one of those lessons where Google was our textbook!

  5. I love science too! My degree is in science, but I think that doing science with young children is even more fun than with adults! Their enthusiasm is so limitless! This is a great activity–I’m going to post it on facebook…let me know if that’s a problem and I’ll take it down!

  6. We have tried this recently too! Its brilliant isn’t it?

    Thanks so much for linking to Science Sparks.

    xx

  7. Toni Cathey says:

    yeah I think it,s awesome

  8. This was a trick I used to do with grandfather all the time! My 11 year old daughter was looking for a chemistry demonstration to do for her class and I remember this one. Thanks for having it explained so clearly.

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