Water Experiments for Kids

Kids love to explore, and all the more so when water is involved! These water experiments for kids will bring plenty of fun, and lots of science learning.

Underwater Miracle

Needed: large bowl or bucket, cup, piece of paper

Challenge Question: Can paper go under water without getting wet?


Prep: Crumple the paper in a ball and put it in the cup. It should be wedged in tightly enough that it won't fall out when turned upside down. Fill the bowl or bucket with water. It should be deep enough that the cup can be entirely submerged.

Do It: Turn the cup with the paper upside down. Push the cup straight down into the water until it is submerged. Then carefully take the cup out again, straight up. Touch the paper; is it still dry?

Tip: If the cup is pushed straight down, it will form a pocket of air in the cup and the paper will stay dry. But careful! If the glass is tilted under the water, it will let water in. You may have to practice a few times to show your child how to carefully put the cup in and take it out without tilting it.

Can You Make An Egg Float?

Needed: a cup full of water, salt, raw egg

Challenge Question: Does an egg sink or float?

Do It: Put an egg gently into the cup of water. What happens?

Ask the child: Do you think that the egg will float if we put salt in this cup? Have the child put a few really large spoonfuls of salt in the cup. Stir it up a little to get it to dissolve.

If nothing happens, keep adding salt. When you get enough salt, the egg will float up to the top. This is because the salt in the water makes the water more dense, and helps to hold the egg up.

Sink or Float?

Needed: tub of water, towel, at least 10 objects that sink or float (cork, eraser, piece of wood, a pencil, paper clip, plastic bottle, rubber band, etc.)

Challenge Question: Can you guess what will float or sink?

Do It: This is one of the easiest experiments for kids. Before your child puts an object into the water, simply ask if she thinks it will sink or float. Generally, young children think that small things will float and large ones will sink, and they will be surprised to find out this is not necessarily true.

Child Floating As kids experiment to find things that float, ask, Why does this float, but that doesn't? Is this heavier? What else might make this one sink?

If kids have trouble finding patterns, separate the floaters and the sinkers into two piles and look for patterns. Are any of them made out of the same stuff? Are they shaped the same?

As kids come up with ideas, encourage them to test them out. If they have a hunch that wood always floats, have them to find other wooden things to test in the water.

Tip: It is so much fun just to put stuff in the water that kids can have a great time just splashing about! Asking questions and making observations will help kids focus their interest on predicting and making discoveries. You might also do the experiment "Make It Float" while you have the water out.

Make It Float

Needed: tub of water, towel, aluminum foil, clay

Challenge Question: How can you make something float?

Do It: Give the child a piece of aluminum foil and have him make it into a ball. Does it sink or float? When it sinks down to the bottom, give him another piece of foil to make into a boat. Boat Floating Put it on the water. What happens now?

Do the same thing with clay. Start by making a clay ball. Does it float? Retrieve the clay and make it into a boat shape. See if it will stay on top of the water.

Ask: Does clay float? Does aluminum foil float? Why did it sink? Why did it stay on top of the water? What makes a real boat stay on top of the water?

Tip: Use real clay, not play dough! Play dough will dissolve in water and get goopy and gross. Clay is more water resistant.

Will It Spill?

Needed: cup of water, pennies, towels

Prep: This is one of those great experiments for kids that takes maybe two seconds to set up. Just fill a cup of water to the very top.

Challenge Question: What will happen if you put a penny in a full glass of water?

Water experiments for kids are great fun, but keep towels nearby!

Do It: Show how to gently add one penny to the full glass. Does the water spill?

As the pennies are added, the water appears to balloon up over the top of the rim without spilling. This is because water has a kind of skin called surface tension. It holds the water in.

Continue adding pennies and counting them to see how many you can add without spilling. Eventually, the surface tension won't be enough to hold all the water in and it will spill over. But it will likely take longer than you expect.

Tip: Be sure to put the pennies in gently. If they are dropped in, it will break the water's skin and will spill over.

What Dissolves?

Needed: a cup of water, salt, sugar, sand, flour, baking soda, pepper, spoon

Challenge Question: What things dissolve when they are mixed with water?

Dissolving Powders

Do It: Explain what dissolve means. Make sure they understand that it only seems to disappear. Really, it is still there, but now it is part of the water.

Mix salt in to the water and stir it up. Can you still see it? Did it dissolve? Taste the water to show that the salt is still there, in the water.

Change the water and put sand inside. Stir it up. Does it dissolve?

Repeat with different powders. Keep track of which ones dissolved and which did not.

Tip: Don't put more than about a teaspoon of powder in the water. If the water gets oversaturated, it won't dissolve any more and the extra will settle on the bottom.

Tip: This is one of the classic experiments for kids, but it does take a lot of salt to make this work! Don't start with too much water or it may take a really long time for your egg to float...


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“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself. ”
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