Science experiments for kids are one of my favorite things to do at home with my kids. This surface tension experiment is a great way to explore and learn at the same time!
I love watching the wonder in their eyes as they do different science demonstrations and experiments.
However, sometimes I don’t have time to do a long experiment with them. That is why we recently did this paper clip surface tension science experiment while I was making dinner one night.
The kids were fascinated by the results, and I loved that they were learning science right there in my kitchen.
If you’re ready for even more science fun, check out my How To Grow Beans In A Bag – Bean in a Bag Science Experiment for Kids as well!
Easy Paper Clip Surface Tension Experiment
If you want a quick science lesson, it doesn’t get easier than this paperclip surface tension experiment! In less than five minutes, you can demonstrate how surface tension works to kids without getting into any complicated chemistry explanations.
Kids love repeating this simple experiment over and over. This surface tension experiment with paper clip is sure to be a hit.
Surface Tension Science for Kids
Surface tension is a surprising science fact. Water, even though many things sink in it, it has a strong bond between molecules The surface can hold some things on the water, and surface tension is why water beads into drops, instead of always spreading out flat and absorbing into every surface. Objects with a lower density than the surface tension bond of the water can float on top! Many insects can walk on the surface of the water.
While most metals are too dense to float on water, some are not! In this experiment kids will find out what small metal objects will float on the surface of water, and which will sink!
What You Need for this Experiment on Surface Tension
- Small metal objects (paperclip, coin, soda tab, nail, safety pin, etc.)
- Plastic cup (1 per group of kids doing the experiment)
How to Do the Paper Clip Surface Tension Science Experiment
This water surface tension experiment is easy to do and just takes 5 minutes of time. All ages are able to join in on the learning fun.
Fill the cup about halfway with water.
Discuss the properties of water molecules and the basics of surface tension.
Ask the kids which of the object they think will sink and if they think any might float. This is the hypothesis of the experiment.
Let the children gently place each object onto the surface of the water one at a time. Watch what happens to the objects.
In our experiment, everything sank except the metal paper clip and the soda tab. But, you might get different results!
Repeat the test for each object and then have the children discuss whether their original thoughts were proven right or disproven.
The children may want to take this experiment further by testing other objects to see if they can float on the surface of the water. Encourage this as that is scientific discovery at work!
If you want to test out if different liquids will have different results, let the kids try this experiment with milk, soda, and anything else that would be safe for little hands to touch and use!
Anytime that you can take a science experiment and combine it with analytics and critical thinking, it’s a win in terms of a scientific approach.