Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homeschool Science Experiment: Oil and Water Do Not Mix

Isn't that right, BP, you bunch of frakkers, you?

Ahem.

In a kismetic confluence of events, Willow, who actually LISTENS to NPR (which I'm not super-happy about because All Things Considered? Kind of dark sometimes. Ask me later about my idea for a kid-friendly news program), has been asking tons of sad questions about the BP oil spill, and Sydney, who doesn't listen to NPR but who DOES like to do fun stuff, found a sweet book of children's science experiments at the Monroe County History Center garage sale free day on Monday.

So sweet, because on my own I likely never would have thought of this simple, sweet, fun experiment that meets both of their educational needs.

You will need:
  • clear glass container (we used a Mason jar)
  • CHEAP cooking oil. The cheapest that I had on hand is canola, but if the girls seem interested in repeating this experiment I'll likely by some cheap store-brand oil just for this and play dough.
  • cup of plain tap water
  • food coloring and stirrer
  • eye dropper. This one was a toughie, and almost instigated a spontaneous trip to CVS, but finally I remembered my stash of essential oils and commandeered the dropper for my grapeseed oil. Eyedroppers, however, are definitely now on my list of must-obtain homeschool equipment.
1. Color the water any color that you want with the food coloring, providing that you don't color it the same color as your cooking oil:
2. Use the eyedropper to slowly drop the colored water into the cooking oil:
You will see the water form into spheres and fall slowly through the oil before landing at the bottom of the container:
Sydney prefers the structured part of the experiment, but Willow does not. So after Sydney and I have done an experiment over and over until she's content, I generally leave out all the materials and let Willow play for as long as she wants. And that's how Willow discovered a corollary to this oil and water experiment: pour the colored water straight into the container of cooking oil, and guess what happens?
Beautiful, and they also oiled the wood table for me. Yay, science!

Next time I may add a lid so that they can shake the container, or perhaps dishwashing detergent.

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