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Rainbow Density Cylinder

Rainbow Density Cylinder
Messiness: High
Age Range: 3y - 9y
Estimated Time: <30 mins

Activity Designer

Stephanie Sims
167 Projects

This liquid density demonstration will impress and educate children who think of liquids as "all the same." Let young kids play with jars of colored water first, seeing them mix... then show them this. They'll surely be impressed!

How We Did It

Rainbow Density Cylinder

This demonstration can be as simple or involved as you like... my two are pretty familiar with density, so we went all out today! Parents of younger children may want to stick with simple ingredients like water, light corn syrup, and vegetable oil.

Rainbow Density Cylinder

We happened to have little plastic cups in our craft cupboard, so we filled them a little over half way full of our liquids.

Rainbow Density Cylinder

The kids used food coloring to color the water...

Rainbow Density Cylinder

...corn syrup...

Rainbow Density Cylinder

...and the rubbing alcohol.

Rainbow Density Cylinder

Now we were ready to assemble! We added the ingredients according to their density. Density is determined by mass: the structure and elements of the molecules that make up the liquid. So some of the liquids are light (and have less density), and some are heavy. Honey (the densest liquid) went in first. We added the liquids to the center of the glass, not against the edge.

Rainbow Density Cylinder

Next we added our corn syrup. We'd colored ours purple, but we should have chosen a different color - one that contrasted nicely with the maple syrup on top of it! Bright green would have been a good one!

Rainbow Density Cylinder

We continuing layering our liquids. (If your colors mix a little, don't worry! They'll separate again.)

Here's the order of how the liquids went in:
corn syrup
maple syrup
dish soap
vegetable oil
rubbing alcohol
lamp oil

Rainbow Density Cylinder
Now isn't that interesting! Of course, my children had to do this again with their own ideas...stirring, learning what could be colored and what couldn't, what could be mixed and what couldn't... Have fun experimenting!


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Www.stevespangler.com for cool science stuff!

posted by: Sue on 9.23.2013

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is there a way - a kit / set which includes all the ingredients, so that i can order all at once online? please give me an idea. my nephew wants to do it so badly but we dont have all... and dont know how to find time to go from shop to shop to buy :(

posted by: Aylin on 8.4.2013

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