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Colorful Walking Water Science Activity

This simple STEM activity turns capillary action and "siphoning" into an exciting rainbow-colored demonstration!

Strips of paper towel connect different colored liquids in five plastic cups

Try this colorful "Walking Water" science activity at home or school! www.sciencebuddies.org

How can you move water from one cup to another without pouring it? A simple hands-on experiment with a series of clear cups and paper towels lets students explore this question. When they see water move up and then down the paper towels, there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion of capillary action, absorption, gravity, and siphoning. Adding food coloring to the science activity adds a cool rainbow effect to the experiment that is exciting to see!

Try It Out!

The Walking Water activity is fun and colorful hands-on science for all ages. Your students can do this activity at home, or educators can lead this activity in the classroom. You only need clear cups or glasses, paper towels, water, and food coloring. Note: the movement of water will happen over a span of hours, so be prepared to set things up and check back in periodically (and even the next day) to see what has happened to the water in the cups. How much water is in each cup at the end of the experiment? What color is the water in each cup and why?

The video below provides an overview of the activity so you know what to expect if you try this with your students!

This Science Buddies activity also appears in the Bring Science Home area at Scientific American. The activity directions contain all the information you need to lead the activity and to explain the science concepts.

Learn More

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