The surface of water is stronger than you might think! Explore and experiment with the easiest chemical to clean up – water. By the time you’ve done all of these wet and wild water experiments you’ll be a surface tension expert!

Starting Off – Water’s Skin

Okay so where should we start? Well I’m here trying to tell you that water is so special – how can I convince you? What if I told you that you can take metal that would normally sink and convince it to float with one simple trick? Try this experiment to start with.

Paperclips floating

Getting under water’s skin

These simple experiments help you explore just how strange and strong the surface of water can be!

So you’ve started on your way to being a water wizard! What’s next? How about a trick that will let you turn a jar full of water upside down without any spilling out? And then just when you are ready let it all sploosh out and pour!

gravity defying water surface tension trick experiment

Gravity Defying Water

This trick will teach you how to turn a jar of wThe next few experiments will ater upside down without spilling any! The best part of the trick is the reveal though – when you’re ready – sploosh! Let the water splash out.

You’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve now, huh? Well, now you’re an expert let’s find out some extra things you can do with surface tension.

What else can surface tension do?

The next few experiments will use the things you’ve just learned about surface tension to make something interesting happen!

walking water surface tension

Walking water

Let’s make some water move! Water can soak up through a bridge and flow upwards! We can use that to make a rainbow of colours.

There are lots of ways we can make colourful things appear, but wouldn’t it be more exciting to have a colourful explosion? If you agree you’ll love this next experiment.

Brightly coloured liquids spread across the surface of milk by adding soap to break the surface tension.

An explosion of colour

Cover the surface of water with a load of food colouring and then break the surface tension to make the colours explode and rush about like fireworks!

Okay adding food colouring to create colour feels like cheating. How about a more fun way to make something colourful? Have you ever noticed the colours coming through a bubble? Find out how that works and then learn some fun bubble tricks!

Light seen through bubbles refracts and appears coloured

How do bubbles work?

A bubble is just a thin skin of water holding a big bag of air inside… so how does it stay together? Just how thin is it?

Bubbles blown onto water on a plate - there are bubbles inside other bubbles!

Bubbles inside bubbles!

Now you know how to make bubbles stronger and how those bubbles stay together, let’s have some fun! Can you make bubbles inside bubbles?

Now you’re a real expert on surface tension! You know just about everything you’ll ever need to know to impress your friends with these tricks and look like a water wizard. But if you’re hungry for more on surfaces – why not find out about a real scientist who discovered all about surface tension from – not a lab – her kitchen!?

Role Model: Agnes Pockels

Agnes Pockels shows you exactly how much you can achieve if you’re dedicated to experiments at home – she started a field of research that ended up with a few people winning Nobel prizes and even invented the equipment that I ended up using in my Ph.D. research.

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