Surface Tension

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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. [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:
$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


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • TryScience


  • All rights reserved, Carnegie Science Center,