Liquid Layers

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Experiment with liquids of different densities and create liquid layers. For example, oil and water have different densities: oil floats on water because it is less dense than water. A liquid that floats is lighter or less dense than a heavier or more dense liquid that sinks.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 8

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Plastic cups (4)
  • Clear straw
  • Plasticine clay
  • Eye dropper
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Salt
  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Food Coloring (4 colors)
  • Measuring cup
  • Tablespoon


  • Physical Sciences
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, 1995

Funding Sources:

  • Unisys
  • Science Learning Network
  • National Science Foundation