Science Experiment for 2-8yr olds: Make a Color Explosion in Milk!

The kids participated in a science fair event a couple of weeks ago… where kids and adults could share their favorite science-related collections, photos, experiments, and knowledge. Some adults set up a slide show of their astronomy photos, sharing bone collections, a cartographer shared some of her materials, kids brought in their rock collection and more… My kids  set up a science activity station with the Color Explosion in Milk. We’ve done this before at home. It’s sure to wow the other kids (and adults) and I thought I’d share this again here because it’s fun!

All you need is milk in a bowl, food dye, detergent and a Q-tip. You place a few drops of dye into the milk, dip the Q-tip into detergent and then very gently place the Q-tip into the water.  The colors start racing around. The kids then dipped their Q-tip into the detergent again and gently placed it back in the milk in a different spot. The colors start moving and swirling about. It’s really pretty to watch!

I made a copy of this experiment and the explanation of how it works that you can print off:

Color Explosion in Milk!

The action in this experiment is a bit complex. Our chemistry book showed how soap molecules have different properties. Our book explained it as one end being “oil-like” and the other, “water-like.” Oil dissolves in the oil-like ends of the soap and becomes surrounded by the water molecules. This experiment shows the movement of molecules as the fat molecules are interacting with the soap detergent molecules.

Steve Spangler explains this milk experiment this way,

The molecules of fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules. During all of this fat molecule gymnastics, the food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity. As the soap becomes evenly mixed with the milk, the action slows down and eventually stops.

Other sources explain that other factors are at work here such as breaking the surface tension of the liquid, etc. If your child is older you could discuss those other factors as well.

At any rate, it’s a colorful fun experiment to do with anyone from pre-K on up. Who doesn’t like watching colors swirl and whirl?!

If you like science, you might also enjoy this Science Experiment Packet I put together of our favorites:

Download your free Science Experiment Packet here.

And at this post you’ll find three more science experiments and a printable.

You might also be interested in this post which shows how you can create your own preschool science curriculum at home. 

 

Need inspiration for fun things to do around the house? Check out these kid-friendly crafts using household items!

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How to Make a Dragon Marionette
How to Make a Dragon Marionette

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