Water: Clearly Unique!

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In this activity on page 4 of the PDF (Water in Our World), learners conduct some quick and easy tests to determine the differences between water and other liquids that look very similar to water. Learners compare how water, rubbing alcohol, and mineral oil repel, absorb, and evaporate.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • 3 clear, plastic 12-ounce cups
  • 3 teaspoons
  • Masking tape
  • Pen
  • Water
  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Mineral oil
  • 6 straws or droppers
  • Wax paper
  • Brown coffee filter


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Department of Volunteer Support, American Chemical Society


  • All rights reserved, American Chemical Society, 2011