BrainStorms: Science with Scottlin – Walking Water

Science With Scottlin

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – When you think of things that can walk, you probably think of humans, like me and you or maybe even animals. But did you ever think water could walk?? That probably sounds crazy!! But today – we will make that happen.  

So, let’s get started.  

GRAB YOUR INGREDIENTS: 7 small containers (4 of 7 filled with water), food coloring, and paper towels 

STEP 1: Line them all up horizontally starting with a container of water and an empty container in between. 

STEP 2: Add in food coloring. In the 1st and 7th jars, add in a few drops of red food coloring. In the 5th jar, we will add in a few drops of blue. In the 3rd jar, add in a few drops of yellow. 

NOTE: You want to be sure to add the same amount of drops to each container. There is a method to this as we will get a cool result in the end. At this point, every other jar should be completely empty. 

STEP 3: Fold the paper towels hot dog style – twice! 

NOTE: If you have smaller cups or jars, you may need to cut a bit of the paper towels off. 

STEP 4: Dip once side of the paper towel into the red food coloring and place the other side into the empty cup. Continue this by getting the next paper towel and putting one end into that same empty cup, and the other end into what should be the jar with yellow colored water. Do this process until every container has a paper towel going in and coming out. 

STEP 5: Wait 30 minutes – 1 hour, then come back and check the progress. 

Science behind this experiment: This is a result of capillary action which is defined as the ability of a liquid to flow upward in narrow spaces without the assistance of external forces.  

This is the same process used to get water from the roots of plants to the top of their stems and leaves. The water is climbing through the gaps in the paper towels defying or going against gravity. Now, there is an attractive force between the water and fibers in the paper towels that work kind of like magnets, sticking to each other until the water gets to the top and then it can naturally go down. Since that has happened from both sides – the water “walked” into what was empty containers. Adding the colors made it a little more fun, because now we have a rainbow. 

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