Loopy Liquids: A Project in Density

Grade Levels: 3 - 6

Materials

  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup glycerin (you can find this oily substance in pharmacies)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • small glasses
  • tall, clear glass or jar that will hold more than 2 cups of liquid two different colors of food coloring
  • a funnel
  • a spoon

Procedures

  1. Pour the light corn syrup, glycerin, water and vegetable oil into four separate cups.
  2. Add a few drops of one color of the food coloring to the water and mix.
  3. Add a few drops of the other color to the corn syrup and mix.
  4. Pour the colored corn syrup into the glass jar. Pour it into the middle of the jar to keep it from running down the sides.
  5. Using the funnel, carefully and slowly pour the glycerin into the jar. Try not to upset the layer of corn syrup.
  6. Wash the funnel.
  7. Repeat step 5, but pour the colored water into the jar.
  8. Wash the funnel.
  9. Repeat step 5, this time pouring the vegetable oil.
What happens:

The liquids remain as separate layers. (If they got mixed, try again, being careful not to shake the jar or disturb the layers while pouring liquid into the jar.) They stayed layered because you poured the liquids into the jar from the highest density to the lowest density. The oil is least dense, so it floats on top.

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