This water suspension science experiment for kids is simple, quick, and a lot of fun for younger kids.
I admire parents who have the energy and enthusiasm for elaborate experiments/crafts/projects. I am NOT one of those parents! I kind of hoped that I would be, but then I became an actual parent and realized that children are pretty much exhausting and I don’t really want to make myself even more exhausted than I already am.
When push comes to shove, I’m looking for something that is quick, easy to pull off, and has a WOW factor that kids love.
This “magic water” experiment fits the bill. It takes literally no time to prep, and it packs a punch for something that’s so simple. Your child will learn something new, and you’ll look like a wizard.
If that’s not a recipe for a parenting win, then really, what is? (The correct answer is “bribing your child with cookies” but I’ll also accept “bribing your child with treats of any kind”).
Now let’s take a look at how to pull off this simple experiment for the less-than-ambitious among us.
- Large bowl of water (preferably a clear bowl for maximum visibility)
- Food coloring
- Small clear drinking glass
Have Your Child Make a Prediction
Ask your child what they think will happen as the upside-down glass rises to the surface of the water. Will the colored water stay in the glass, or spill out?
Method (Quick Steps)
- Add food coloring to the water
- Submerge your glass into the bowl (which is filled with water)
- Turn the glass upside down, keeping it fully submerged
- Slowly lift the glass up, without letting the top of the glass rise above the surface of the water
- Try lifting the glass fully above the bowl, breaking the surface
The Experiment with Photos
Add food coloring to the water in a large bowl.
You ideally want a bowl to be big enough to easily submerge your glass.
Submerge your glass in the bowl, filling it with water. Then turn it upside down slowly and lift the glass up, without letting it rise above the surface of the water.
The water will “magically” stay inside the glass, even though it’s upside down! The food coloring makes the experiment look really cool for kids.
Have your child try lifting the glass fully above the bowl, breaking the surface.
Once the surface is broken there will no longer be air pressure to keep the water suspended. Out goes the water!
The Science Behind the Experiment
The water is able to stay inside the glass, even as it’s being lifted up, because air pressure is pushing down on the water’s surface. This forces the water up into the glass. As you gradually lift the glass above the surface of the water you lose the pressure that was keeping the water suspended in air. Gravity then does its job, causing the water to fall out.
Why I Like This Experiment
I like this water suspension science experiment because you can do it with basically no extra materials. A little food coloring, and you’re in business! The experiment would work fine even without food coloring, but it wouldn’t look as magical.
We did the experiment with a few different colors, and your kid will probably want to play around a bit here. And why not? Food coloring is delightful!
My Kindergarten aged son thought this was very cool, and it was something he could do by himself (with just a little guidance). It’s a quick, neat way to demonstrate the effects of gravity and air pressure.
And when you’re done with the experiment, you just wipe off the counter with a wet cloth and you’re back to factory settings. Feel free to move on to another cool and easy experiment, or grab yourself a snack and call it a day.
This is a judgement free zone.
You may also want to try this 5 minute science experiment for kids.
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