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What Makes Water Special?

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

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Review the worksheet with students. Older students can complete the investigation independently. With younger students and/or depending on time allowed, you may want to go through the worksheet on a step-by-step basis, and investigate only one liquid in two sessions. Remind students that they must follow the worksheet to make the observations.

Mystery Liquid 1

  1. Each student should select a drop to observe with a hand lens. Have students draw the drop from the top and side and describe the drop using three words on their student sheets.
  2. Next, ask the students to try to split the drop into smaller drops using a toothpick. They should draw the results on the student sheet.
  3. Now, have the students try to move the smaller drops together and discover what happens.
  4. Have them draw the new drop that is formed when the smaller drops come in contact with one another.
  5. After forming the new larger drop, students should dip their toothpick into a drop of food coloring and mix it into the new drop. When adding food coloring, students should touch the tip of the toothpick into the food coloring. Students should allow some of the food coloring to flow onto the toothpick and then place the toothpick into the liquid. Remind students that food coloring can stain clothes, materials and skin.
  6. Have students draw the drop again and color it appropriately.
  7. After students have completed their investigations of Liquid 1, instruct Materials Managers to collect Liquid 2 for their groups.

Mystery Liquid 2

  1. Instruct students to repeat the preceding exploration using Mystery Liquid 2. 
  2. Remind students to use a clean dropper and toothpick. 
  3. Complete the “Compare and Contrast” portion of the worksheet.

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