I love how simple, but exciting this science experiment for kids is. It is easy science for kids to do at home, or school! All you need is water, clear cups, oil and food colouring!
There is so much learning that happens with this experiment, from learning about how oil and water interact to colour mixing and density. There was a lot of excitement in the room as we did the experiment.
I initially did this experiment with over 100 children. Many of them commented, as they did their experiment that it reminded them of fireworks.
Start by filling a cup 2/3 full with water. The colder the water the better! (The water temperature makes a difference for how the food colouring reacts. Click here for an experiment to explain why the temperature matters.
Then add a layer of oil. I used vegetable oil, but any oil will work. Kids are excited to notice that the oil sits on top of the water. Although, water and oil are both liquids, they behave in different ways and have different properties.
Next, add a few drops of food colouring to the oil. You will immediately notice that the colouring remains separate from the oil.
You can use one or many different colours. If you use two, children love watching as their two colours meet and begin to change the colour of the water and this is easy science for kids to do largely independently.
It is mesmerizing to watch the colour as it settles to the bottom.
I love how beautiful all of the cups looked as we did this easy science for kids!
My students loved their ‘fireworks’ they created and the fact that they were much quieter than other fireworks.
These fireworks are also fun to create for a party or celebration.
When I did this easy experiment for kids, the children watched with magnifying glasses, as the food colouring slowly ‘popped’ down into the water. (The food colouring is heavier/denser than the oil so it sinks.) It was so much fun!
As an extension activity, I filled a clear container with oil (no water). I then added a variety of colours of food colouring. In the bottom I added an antacid tablet. This created what looked like a lava lamp.
Since the food colouring does not mix with the oil, the ‘blobs’ of colouring do not colour the oil the way they colour the water. This allows for a rainbow of colour to move through the oil. It lasted for several minutes.
For more fun science experiments to do at home, try out my “Rocket Science” experiment. (It’s one of my kid’s favorites!)