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Surface Tension

Source Institutions

    New York Hall of Science

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Surface Tension

In this activity exploring liquid dynamics, learners design and build a clay channel in a tray of water and then see what happens when food coloring and liquid soap are added to the mix. The activity also has suggestions on how to extend the experiment for older learners once they understand the basic concept of surface tension.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Cafeteria Tray (with raised edges)
  • Plasticine modeling clay
  • Water
  • Liquid soap
  • Food coloring
  • Toothpick
  • Paper towels
  • Bucket or basin for waste water


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • TryScience


  • All Rights Reserved, Carnegie Science Center,


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