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Layering Liquids Density Experiment

 Posted by on August 19, 2014
Aug 192014

Learning about density is great fun for kids. This layering liquids density experiment is fun and tasty! Give it a try.

Layering Liquids Density Experiment

Layering Liquids Density Experiment

We have done this density experiment before with our saltwater density investigation. Today we’re changing it up a bit. Instead of using saltwater, we are using sugar water. And to make this even more fun, let’s use flavored sugar water. We’ll have a fun little drink when we’re done experimenting.

To make this an experiment, we need to change something. Let’s change the amount of sugar in our flavored waters. We could go to the trouble of making different concentrations of sugar water, but that requires a lot of stirring and sometimes the sugar won’t dissolve as well as you hope. Let’s use pre-made flavored sugar water, aka juice {any sugary drink would work}. The greater difference in sugar concentration between the liquids, the easier it will be to layer them. {You’ll still get layering with even slight density differences – ask my Oceanography students about that lab – but the layers tend to mix, especially if your kids are doing the pouring.}

Here are the materials you need:

  • Clear glasses
  • Graduated cylinder {optional, but it helps use less liquid}
  • 2-5 kinds of sugary drinks
    • grape juice {40 g of sugar}
    • orange juice {22 g of sugar}
    • apple juice {29 g sugar}
    • white grape juice light {11 g of sugar; also sweetened with sucralose}
    • water {0 g of sugar}
  • Syringe {optional but it helps to layer the liquids}

Stacking Two Liquids

I showed Aiden the different liquids and told him they each contain a different amount of sugar. I asked him to pick two of them.

I said: This grape juice has more sugar than the orange juice. What do you think will happen when we pour the juices together? {You can just use a small amount of each liquid and pour them into a tall skinny container like a graduated cylinder. You’ll use less materials this way.}

Make some predictions:

  • Pour drink A onto drink B, this will happen…
  • Pour drink B onto drink A, this will happen…

Make an observation: The drink with the higher amount of sugar sinks to the bottom.

We repeated this with the other drinks. Choose two liquids, predict what will happen, and observe the results.

Layering Liquids Density Experiment

When we added the orange juice to the apple juice, the orange juice sank. This tells us that the orange juice was more dense than the apple juice. Density isn’t just about the amount of sugar in the water. Other things dissolved in the water – maybe some pulp in the case of orange juice – will affect it. {Density is the amount of stuff [mass] per volume.}

Stacking Five Liquids

Now that we’ve established the densities of the liquids, we can layer even more liquids.

  1. Place the liquids in order of their density.
  2. Pour the most dense {highest sugar content} drink into a glass.
  3. Slowly pour the liquid with the next greatest density into the glass. Slowly pour the drink down the side of the glass. {Using a syringe or medicine dropper makes it easier. There will be less mixing.}
  4. Continue layering the liquids in order of decreasing density.

Layering Liquids Density Experiment

How many liquids can you stack? We managed to get five different density layers.

Layering Liquids Density Experiment

More Ways to Explore the Science of Liquids with Kids

Check out these liquid science activities from some of my blogger friends.

Bern from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas experiments with oil and water.
Allison from Learn Play Imagine shares a walking water experiment.
Megan from Coffee Cups and Crayons asks: Does it dissolve?

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This post was originally published on August 7, 2013.

  15 Responses to “Layering Liquids Density Experiment”

  1. That is fantastic Trisha. We tried with different coloured salt solutions, but it didn’t work as well as yours. I will be adding lot of different juices to my shopping this week :-)

  2. Never thought about using different juices – it is also a way to show kids visually about sugary drinks.

  3. I love love love this idea! there are so many different liquids around the kitchen that could be used in this! pinned and shared on fb

  4. Really love this idea for playing with fruit juice. May try and use it during daughters birthday party next week

  5. Hi! I teach 3rd grade and I am super excited about this idea… although I tried it myself at home first and I got a cup of brown juice!! Do you have any tips for making this work more easily?? It is a really fun project! Thanks :)

    • Hi Mary! The best tip I have is to use a syringe to add the juice to the cup. Also using a graduated cylinder produced better layers for us than a cup. Allow the juice to slide down the slide of the glass. The syringe will help it go slowly. If the juice goes too fast, it tends to mix. You could also use droppers or pipettes to add the juice more slowly. Release the drops of juice as close to the surface of the second juice as possible. The dropper/pipette should work well for the stacking two liquids part.

      If the juice sinks to the bottom, then it is more dense. If you place a higher density juice on top of a lower density juice, the layers will most likely mix. If you want nice pretty layers, you’ll need to place the juices in order from highest density to lowest density. The greater the differences in density, the easier it is to get nice layers as well. {Pay attention to the amount of sugar in each juice. Brands can different so you’ll want to read the labels carefully.}

      Let me know if there is any other help I can give. :) The same idea also works with sugar water or salt water. Check out our to see what we did.

  6. This is amazingly fabulous! I can’t wait to do this experiment with my children later this year. Thank you for sharing :-)

  7. I’ve found the easiest way to create layers is to slowly pour each layer over an upside down spoon while keeping the spoon close to the surface.

  8. Thanks for this idea. I’m new to teaching and I am looking for low budget ideas for middle school physical and life sciences. I need help fast. See me at Pinterest. I just found that resource. I am “geoman” there.
    Thank You!

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