Activity to Try at Home

How to Make an Impressive 8 Layer Density Column!

  • 9-10, 12+
  • 5 to 20 min
  • Normal

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This density column experiment looks great and also teaches us about two important concepts in chemistry and physics – density and buoyancy! Max and Alex were wowed by the finished product and spent a good time while collecting lots of extra household items to drop into the tower. We had a productive chat about fluid density afterwards, which allowed me to introduce the concept of a materials mass.

List of Materials

Honey

Maple syrup

Milk

Hand soap

Water

Rubbing alcohol

Vegetable oil

Baby oil

A tall glass or vase

An assortment of small household objects of different weights (e.g., a screw, a raisin, a peanut, a marble and a ping-pong ball

If you don’t have one of the liquids listed, just leave it out – the experiment will work just fine without it. Don’t replace it with another liquid – chances are it will have a different density, which will ruin the look of the final product! That being said, once you’ve set up a successful density tower, going off-book and trying out different household liquids can be a fun activity in itself.

Safety information

This experiment is easy and safe – but has the potential to be very messy. This one is perhaps best carried out in the bathroom or kitchen! Adult supervision is advised for younger children, as ingestion of some of the liquids could be unpleasant, and the small objects could be a choking hazard.

Step by Step Instructions

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Prepare all of the liquids in separate beakers, cups or glasses.

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Start by pouring the honey into the tall glass.

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Add the next layer of the column (maple syrup) carefully, either using a syringe or a very steady hand!

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Repeat this process until you have filled the tall glass with each of the eight liquids. Sit back and marvel at your weird and wonderful looking density column!

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Starting with the steel screw, drop each of the small objects into the density column. Take note of where each one stops sinking!

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Going Deeper Into The Science – 8 Layer Density Column Science Experiment (thedadlab.com)