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What Dissolves in Water?

Author(s): Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, and Judith Dresden, MS.


Have students work in groups of four. Put each group's materials on a tray and place in a central location for Materials Managers to pick up. 

Teacher Materials

  • Food coloring
  • 600 mL water 
  • 100-250 mL beaker
  • 6 clear plastic cups, 9 oz. (250 mL)
  • 6 clear plastic portion cups, 2 oz (60 mL)
  • 6 spoons or coffee stirrers
  • 1 teaspoon each of clear oil, diluted food coloring, flour, ground coffee (not instant), salt and sugar
  • Plastic tray to hold materials
  • Copy of the student page


  1. You will need to prepare a dilute solution of food coloring by placing approximately 120 ml of water into a plastic drinking cup or beaker and adding six drops of food coloring. 

  2. Place a teaspoon of each test substance (clear oil, diluted food coloring solution, flour, ground coffee [not instant or coffee grinds], salt and sugar in a separate 2-oz. plastic cup or other small container. 

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Numbers: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education