Lessons at the Dinner Table: Experimenting with Liquid Density vs. Viscosity

Come Visit our Dinner Table turned Homemade Science Lab to learn more about LIQUIDS!

Here’s a fun at-home science experiment for kids (okay, and adults) to consider the densities and viscosities of various liquids. I’ll give you the simplified kitchen version.

Liquid Density Science Experiment

Materials Needed:

  4 “shot” (small, clear) glasses:

 (1) ¾ full of room temperature water, colored with blue water-based food coloring

 (1) ¾ full of light corn syrup, colored with red “gel” food coloring (which also has corn syrup as base)

 (1) ¾ full of glycerin (from first aid section of drug store, which will have a clear color)

 (1) ¾ full of pure vegetable oil (which will have its own natural yellow color)
PLUS (1) taller clear juice glass, in which you’ll eventually pour all these liquids together.               



 Pour each liquid, slowly*, into the juice glass, one at a time, in this suggested order:

  1. Water
  2. Corn Syrup
  3. Glycerine
  4. Oil

 Wait a moment for the liquids to settle and layer out.  The more dense liquids will go to the bottom of the glass, and the less dense liquids will layer at the top of the glass.

(*I’ve done this in a mason jar & shaken it up too. Just realize that, if you choose this option, you’re going to be waiting awhile for things to settle out.)

 You can repeat the experiment, pouring the liquids into the glass in a different order.  Regardless, if you do the experiment properly, your layers should always come out the same.

(Note:  Some of the food coloring may slightly leak from one fluid to another because of the gel or water base in them, rather than the liquids themselves coming together.)



Can you tell which of your liquids is the most dense? 

 The least dense? 

 Is that what you expected, based on how thick (viscous) they were when you poured them?



To check your answers (and get a more comprehensive explanation + some other options to the experiment), review the slides below from my son’s 5th  grade science experiment that he conducted and the answers he discovered:

Comparing Liquid Viscosity to Density
Using the Scientific Method

(the beginning slide shares the same name as this title)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Thought it would also be fun to do a ping-back to the Where’s My Backpack Travel Theme this Week on Liquids, for all those submitting to contemplate on the viscosities of all their lovely fluid depictions.


How to: Submit Lessons at the Dinner Table to Share with Others


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