What's So Special about Water: Absorption

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In this activity about water's cohesive and adhesive properties and why water molecules are attracted to each other, learners test if objects repel or absorb water. Learners create and test possible explanations why some repel, while others absorb. They also learn how to share their observations, hypotheses, experiments, and conclusions with each other. This lesson guide includes instructions for two mini activities, key vocabulary words, extension ideas, helpful hints, and resources. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • Clay
  • Cotton
  • Eyedropper
  • Paper
  • Plastic cups
  • Rocks
  • Sponge
  • Toothpicks
  • Water
  • Waxed paper


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Bowers, Sally


  • All rights reserved, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 2007