Levity Through Tension: Fun with Water's Surface Tension

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
This experiment describes how to create a "dribble bottle" which only leaks water when the cap is unscrewed. The full water bottle has a small hole made with a push pin. The surface tension of water is strong enough to keep the small pin hole sealed. When the bottle is open, air can enter the bottle through the top, and air pressure overcomes the surface tension, pushing water out the small hole. In a related video, Mr. O and his assistants explore surface tension with a variety of similar experiments.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • plastic water bottle
  • water
  • push pin


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure


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



Related Video