Making Waves

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Investigate the interaction of liquids of different densities and experiment with wave patterns with this hands-on activity. Using water, food coloring and oil, learners will explore the concepts of density and how waves propagate in the ocean. [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:
5 to 10 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Clear plastic container with tight cap
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Mineral oil (cooking oil or baby oil also work)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Wave Properties
      • Wave Motion


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • TryScience


  • All rights reserved, The Franklin Institute,