One of my favourite things about science for kids is all of the ‘I wonder’ questions that come from each lesson. Children have a natural interest in experiments and their world. I had done an activity that involved a bottle of oil floating in water and several students asked what would happen if I poured the bottle of oil into the bucket of water. Since students were wondering, I figured this lesson would be a great inquiry for today!
I sometimes have to do science activities in front of the classes as a big group, for safety reasons or a lack of materials. However, I really try to have students do the experiments independently to get as hands-on as possible. For this experiment, I put students into small groups of 3 and had them fill a clear cup 3/4 full of water. (I had added a few drops of blue food colouring simply to make it more visible). Then I added oil to each cup. We did this outside on a beautiful day! I had students place a plate under the cup to create a level surface on the ground. They watched, on their bellies with magnifying glasses, as the oil was poured in. They watched it fall to the bottom and then rise and all float on top of the water.
Students then thought of their hypothesis for what would happen when we added a few drops of food colouring. I then added some yellow, then a few drops of red (I figured I could work in a little colour mixing lesson). I dropped the food colouring into students cups. If I had to do the activity again, I would let students do it on their own with eye droppers.
It was fun watching students reactions as the oil separated from the water and when the food colouring got “trapped” in the oil. It was a great science for kids lesson to introduce students to the characteristics of different matter. I love science!