Investigation Sequence



Written by:

Jennifer Bice & Cheri Reinholdt                 Date


Focus Questions

What are some properties of water?


Content: Earth, Physical, & Life

When water particles get near each other they attract which gives them some interesting qualities such as adhesion, cohesion, capillary action, and surface tension.

Cross cutting concepts

Science Practice

Personal, Social, Technology, Nature of Science, History

Background information

The attraction and attaching of water to itself is called cohesion. The attraction and attaching of water to something else is called adhesion. This strong attraction of water particles at the surface, to itself and other objects is known as surface tension. The attraction of water helps particles move upward in tubes or spaces, which is known as capillary action. The concept and background information is written for teachers and other adult readers. For students the term molecule would be more appropriate as some pieces of water, water particles, etc. The terms cohesion and adhesion would be termed stickiness and would be used interchangeably. The correct use of terminology and full understanding would not be expected until junior high.additionalinfo

Activity Sequence

1. Water Drops
2. Water Drops on a Coin
3. Pepper in the Pie Plate
4. What is "Surface Tension"?
5. Soak Those Sharks
6. How a Plant Carries Water
7. The S.S. Paper Clip

Activity Descriptions

Activity 1
Water Drops
Materials: wax paper, water, eyedropper, toothpick
1. Ask the students what would happen if they dropped water on wax paper?
2. Drop a few drops of water on wax paper using the eyedropper.
3. Observe what happens. Does the water spread out or form droplets?
4. With a toothpick break a drop into smaller and smaller drops.
5. Observe what happens.
6. Dip the toothpick in soap and put near the drops of water.
7. Observe what happens.
8. How would water on a waxed or unwaxed car be like what you observed in the activity?

Activity 2
Water Drops on a Coin
Materials: penny, water in a cup, eyedropper, paper clip, straw
1. What do you think will happen if you put water drops on a penny?
2. Place penny on a flat surface with the head facing up.
3. Predict how many drops of water can be put on the penny before it flows off.
4. Put the eyedropper into the cup and draw water up the stem.
5. Hold the end of the stem about 2cm above the penny and gently squeeze the rubber bulb so a drop of water is released (one at a time) to fall onto the penny. How is it important for everyone to hold the dropper the same way?
6. Count the drops as you put them on the penny.
7. Watch from the side as the water builds up on the penny.
8. Continue releasing drops of water until it overflows and runs off the penny.
9. Now flatten one end of a straw by creasing it and folding it over two or three times. Secure this end with a paper clip and repeat steps 1-6 using the straw as your dropper.
10. What did you notice about the water when it was on the penny? How many drops did it take for the water to overflow? Close or far from your prediction?

Activity 3
Pepper in the Pie Plate
Materials: 2 pie plates, warm water, cold water, pepper, liquid soap in small jar, toothpick
1. What do you think will happen if you sprinkle pepper into water.
2. Fill one of the pie plates with warm water and the other with cold water.
3. Sprinkle some pepper onto the water in each of the pie plates and observe the results.
4. Touch the tip of a toothpick to the liquid soap in the small jar.
5. At the edge of the pie plate, slowly immerse the soapy toothpick into the pie plate filled with warm water.
6. Repeat Procedure 3 and 4 using the pie plate with cold water.
7. Observe the results.
8. What happened to the pepper in both the warm and cold water? Why do you think this happened?
9. How would this relate to when you are doing dishes?

Activity 4
What is "Surface Tension"?
Materials: long tall bottle or graduate, drinking glass or bowl, needle, soap or detergent, metal paper clips, water
1. What do you think will happen if drop a needle in a glass of water? Paperclip?
2. Fill a tall jar or graduate to about _ inch from the top with water.
3. Looking at the jar or graduate ay eye level, look at the spot where the water meets the sides of the jar or graduate.
4. Ask students to determine if this surface of the water is flat, curved up, or curved down.
5. Fill a drinking glass or bowl to the very top of the container making the water as level with the top of the container as possible.
6. Carefully place a needle on the surface of the water carefully lowering it slowly and horizontally.
7. After the needle has floated for about a minute, slowly touch the surface of the water with a bi of soap or a drop of liquid detergent. Observe the results.
8. Start from scratch. Add water to the jar or glass until the water level is even with the edge of the top.
9. Ask students to estimate how many paper clips they think can be added to the water without the water spilling over the edge.
10. Add paper clips carefully to the jar or glass full of water until the water runs over the top.
11. What did you find out about water from your experiment?
12. Does this have anything to do with things floating on water? Explain? Water bugs? Boats?

Activity 5
Soak Those Sharks
Materials: paper towels brown paper bag, old white cotton sweat sock, sheet of typing paper, blue food color, 13 x 9 baking pan, blunt-tipped scissors, pencil, hanger, string, metric ruler, tape, spoon.
1. Do you think that water could mover upward? Explain your answer.
2. Trace a shark pattern onto a piece of typing paper and cut out. Measure the shark and record the length in centimeters.
3. Use the typing paper shark to cut sharks from the sock, paper bag, and a paper towel. You will now have four sharks.
4. Tape the sharks’ tails to the bottom of the hanger so the sharks’ tails are evenly spaced across.
5. Fill the baking pan half full of water and add 4 drops of blue food coloring to create an ocean.
6. Tie a string to the hook of the hanger and suspend the hanger so that just the noses of the sharks are in the ocean. Record the time that the sharks took their dive.
7. Leave the sharks’ noses in the ocean until one of the sharks is completely soaked. Remove the sharks and record. Lay the sharks on a paper towel covered surface and let them dry.
8. Measure the distance from each shark’s nose to the blue line left by the ocean and record those on a chart.
9. Look at the distances you recorded for each shark in the chart.
10. Discuss the results of each shark.
11. What might this relate to in nature?

Activity 6
How a Plant Carries Water
Materials: fresh celery stalks with leaves, glass of water, red food coloring, hand lens
1. How do you think plants get water?
2. Place several drops of red food coloring in a glass of water.
3. Cut off the bottom of the stalk of celery.
4. Place celery stalk in glass of colored water.
5. After about an hour, remove celery from water.
6. Break celery in middle and observe.
7. Draw a picture of what you see.
8. Try the same activity with white flowers like daisies or carnations. Use different colors of food coloring.
9. Discuss what happened to the celery.
10. How does this relate to plants?

Activity 7
The S.S. Paper Clip
Materials: paper clips, container for water, water, alcohol, liquid detergent, toothpicks
1. Do you think a paperclip can float on water? Explain.
2. Use a container that is clean and completely free of soap. Fill it full of water. Bend the center of a paper clip out to form a cradle.
3. Use the cradle to lower another paper clip very slowly onto the surface of the water. Keep trying until you get the paper clip to float.
4. Look carefully at the floating paper clip from the top and the side. Record observations.
5. Use the end of a toothpick to add some alcohol near the paper clip.
6. Use another toothpick to place one drop of liquid detergent on the water’s surface near the paper clip.
7. Record and discuss observations.
8. How can you use what you learned from this experiment?

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes