liquid stacking

Here’s a simple and fun experiment parents can do at home with their kids or teachers can use in the classroom. Kids will get to practice division and measurement, as well as investigate the behaviors of different household liquids based on density.

Materials you will need:

Long clear bottle
measuring cup
dark corn syrup
dish washing liquid (a colorful one works best)
vegetable oil
rubbing alcohol
food coloring (add a different color to water and rubbing alcohol)
science journal and pencil
colored pencils

Prior to starting this experiment, ask kids to write predictions in their science journals as to which liquids have the most density.

I predict that…

Here’s a great video on density by Mr. Wizard if your kids don’t have a concept of what density is yet.

Next determine how many ounces the bottle holds. There are five liquids in this experiment, so divide the total number of ounces by five. This is how many ounces you will need to add of each liquid.

Measure and add the liquids carefully in the following order: corn syrup, dish washing liquid, colored water, vegetable oil, and colored alcohol. You will want to tilt the bottle slightly as you add each new liquid to the bottle.

Turn the bottle upside down and watch what happens. Write and draw observations.

What do you observe?

What do you notice?

Kids should notice that the liquids rearrange themselves according to their density. The most dense liquid lies near the bottom, while the least dense liquid remains at the top.

Have kids write down their claims, evidence, and conclusions.

I claim that…

My evidence shows that…

I learned…

Here’s a video explaining the liquid stacking experiment to help you prepare to do this activity with kids:

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