Rainbow Density Cylinder

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Here’s a neat visual way for even young kids to grasp the concept of density. You’ll get messy in the kitchen, mix up some colors, and sneak in some science to boot!

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While Travis was napping, I set up paper cups and all of the liquids we’d be using for the project, in this order of density:

Corn syrup (or carob syrup)

Maple syrup

Water

Almond milk

Vegetable oil

Dish Soap

Rubbing alcohol

Note: Feel free to adapt this list, depending what you have at home, including agave nectar or honey for non-vegan families.

Travis was so intrigued at the set-up, and we talked briefly about how some liquids sit on top of (are less dense) than others. Was he ready to see how it worked? Yes!

Rainbow Density (2)

We tinted a few of our liquids with food color for a better visual effect: green for the water, red for the dish soap, and blue for the rubbing alcohol.

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Carefully help your child pour the liquids, in order of density, into a glass container. Thinner containers will work better, such as a recycled jam jars or an old dressing jar.

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It may take your layers a few minutes to settle, making a rather goopey mixture at first!

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After we gave it a moment, our layers were more apparent – we loved the hit of bright blue from the alcohol at the top!

Oddly, the blue alcohol layer disappeared when we returned to the jar about an hour later, but here you can see some of the layers even more clearly.

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Travis had so much fun that I gave him extra cups and additional food color to mix up for some time.

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A fun afternoon in the kitchen!