Comparing the Density of Different Liquids

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Learners carefully pour vegetable oil, water, and corn syrup in any order into a cup and discover that regardless of the order they are poured, the liquids arrange themselves in layers the same way. Learners then weigh the liquids and use their results, along with what they understand about density, to explain why the liquids form layers as they do. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn syrup
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • 6 small cups
  • 1 tall clear cup
  • 50 paperclips
  • Student Activity Sheet


  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kessler, James H. ; Galvan, Patricia M.


  • All rights reserved, American Chemical Society, 2007