Defining Dissolving

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In this introductory activity, learners discover that sugar and food coloring dissolve in water but neither dissolves in oil. Based on their observations, learners can conclude that both solids and liquids can dissolve, but they don't necessarily dissolve in all liquids. Through this activity, learners will refine their definition of dissolve. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 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
  • Sugar
  • Food Coloring
  • 2 Small cups
  • 4 Clear plastic cups
  • 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 Teaspoon
  • Student Activity Sheet
  • Goggles


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • 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