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In today’s experiment you will see how materials that have different density behave when they are put in the same jar or glass. Density is how close together the molecules of a substance are or how much mass a substance has in a given space. If you have one cup of jelly beans and one cup of marshmallows…the jelly beans have more mass…there is more “stuff” compacted into the cup. The marshmallows are mostly air. If you put each of those cups in a microwave to melt…the sugar and water that makes up the jelly beans would almost fill the cup to the top. The sugar and water that makes up the marshmallows would only fill the cup a little bit because marshmallows have less mass, they are mostly made of air. Materials with more density weigh more. A cup of jelly beans weighs more than a cup of marshmallows.
If you pour several materials of varying density in a jar, the materials with more density are heavier and will sink to the bottom. Watch this happen be putting several household materials in a jar. If you use materials that are different colors you will see layers in the jar.
You Will Need:
- Tall Jar or Glass
- Light Corn Syrup w/ red food coloring in it
- Blue Dish Soap
- Water w/green food coloring in it
- Vegetable oil
- Rubbing Alcohol
Slowly pour a layer of each substance in the glass jar. Try to be pour carefully so that there are no smudges on the sides of the jar. Pour the substances in order 1-6. Once you are done and have observed the layers, put a lid on the jar and give it a couple shakes. How do the layers look now? Let the jar sit for an hour. Now how do the layers look?
Science Experiment Idea:
Gather five small glass containers – small jars or glasses…baby food jars would be perfect. Carefully fill the first container halfway with honey, the second container halfway with light corn syrup (w/red food coloring in it), the third container halfway with blue dish soap, the fourth container halfway with vegetable oil and the last container halfway with rubbing alcohol. Now fill a small pitcher water and add green food coloring to it. Use the green water to fill up each jar to the top.
For each substance, guess whether it will be more or less dense than water. Will the water stay on top or will it form a layer below? Materials with more density weigh more. Any substance that has more density than water will remain the bottom layer. Any substance with less density than water will rise to the top.
Here are some websites with more density information and experiments:
- Fetch Potion Commotion
- ZOOM Activity: Water Density
- Activity TV: Double Density
- Virtual Mass, Volume and Density Lab
Here are some books that help you learn about density with layering demonstrations like this one.
- How to Make a Liquid Rainbow
- Science Experiments That Surprise and Delight “Layer Magic” (pages 26-27)
- Science Rocks “Liquid Layers”
Words to Know:
Density – How closely packed together the molecules of a substance are.
Mass - How much matter fits in a given space.
Matter - Stuff
Weight - A measure of the force of gravity on an object. Materials with more density weigh more.
Volume – How much space a substance takes up.
*****The confusing relationship between weight and mass: On earth, a bowling ball can weigh about 10 pounds. If you take that same bowling ball to the moon it will weigh much less because the graviational pull of the moon is less than the gravitational pull on the earth. Weight is a measure of gravitational pull. So the weight of the bowling ball, or anything else, changes depending on where you weigh it. The mass of the bowling bowl does not change no matter where it is. The bowling ball has the same amount of mass on earth as it does on the moon or anywhere else you take it.