Sugar Water Rainbow and Gravity Bead Experiments

This post has a sugar water density rainbow and gravity bead experiments. First, the sugar water density experiment trials. We tried this experiment several ways and it was very fun. It took several attempts to almost match the Steve Spangler Sick Science video. They make it look so easy! We read the informational page about the experiment in between trials, also, to get more tips.  First, we pour six glasses of water that were about equal.

first we measured equal amounts of water in six glasses

The first time we tried this, we used liquid food coloring from the grocery store. The coloring needs to be added before the sugar. We did follow the instructions to have no sugar in the first glass, and then one tablespoon of sugar in the next, going up to five in the last glass. So far so good. We even tried again, doubling the sugar as we read about at this blog post.  Still not much luck.

six glasses of colored water ready for sugar

Trial and Error Is One Way To Learn

I won’t show you the first attempt at layering colors as it just didn’t work. Maybe we were having too much fun. So back to the drawing board and we ordered the Steve Spangler (non-affiliate, non-sponsored) fizzers colored tablets and waited for them to arrive. Woo hoo! We were excited when they arrived. We used regular sugar for the next trial, also.

super-saturated-sugar-attemp-with-baster-and-double-sugar

You can find color fizzers by checking the Steve Spangler site.

super-saturated-sugar-attemp-with-baster-and-double-sugar

This was about the best we could do until we gave up on a large glass. It was tons of fun trying! We did try again with fine baker’s sugar from a special grocery store and didn’t do much better. The tricks seem to be to rinse the baster between colors, pour very slowly, and to super saturate the sugar water (heat it in the microwave a few seconds). Cold water won’t work at all. It is good for children to try different variables and work like real scientists no matter how it all turns out.

So finally, in the end, this is what worked in a test tube:

final-layered-colored-sugar-water-experiment

baker’s fine sugar (not regular grocery store sugar)
food coloring first
not so much water, not full glasses but more like 1/2 a cup in each glass
2 fizzer tablets each glass
4 colors in all
supersaturate in microwave 15 to 24 seconds (more for glasses with more sugar)
most sugar density first to plain colored water, in order of how much sugar was added (double amounts not needed)
stir well, stir well
use a test tube or skinny glass
turkey baster for first color as that is the base and one color doesn’t mix alone and is faster than an eyedropper
put the turkey baster AWAY after the first color
get out the eyedropper
don’t breathe or move the table
add the other colors drop by drop down the side of a tilted test tube for each other color
rinse eyedropper between colors
go slowly
and the colors will layer

The gravity beads experiment went much better as they were easier. My daughter figured out the trick was to use a wide mouth glass and wind the beads in circles from the bottom up. Success!

Thank you for reading, Carolyn

Rainbow-water-density-science-experiment

About the Author:

Carolyn Wilhelm is the author of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has an MS in Gifted Education, a MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12, and has completed the KHT Montessori 12 month program. She makes mostly free resources for teachers and parents.
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