Make Water Walk with This Science Experiment! - MYSPARKLEBOX
Learn About Capillary Action with This Water Experiment

Learn About Capillary Action with This Water Experiment

walking water experiment for kids to understand capillary action


There are quite a few fun experiments that can get the kids excited about science. If you are looking for some do-it-yourself fun, the walking water experiment for kids is a great option. Also, it is a great hands-on choice to introduce a kid to the basic concepts of science. In a single experiment, a child can form an idea about absorption, capillary action, and colour theory.

Water is one of the most important resources on the planet. Learning about the various forces in play as the water interacts with other substances is great for improving a kid’s basic knowledge. It has a simple setup, and can easily be conducted without many preparations. 

So how to go about it? We will start with the items needed, and then give you a step by step description of the whole process. Also, we will discuss the science behind the travelling water experiment. 

Setting Up the Walking Water Experiment for Kids

Here is the list of items that you will need for conducting this experiment:

  • 6 clear cups or glasses with a wide mouth and of equal size
  • Multiple food colouring or liquid colours
  • Water
  • Paper towels (extra-absorbent ones work best)

Now, follow the following steps to set up and conduct the experiment.

kid performing water experiment at home


Step 1-  Line up the six glasses. Add 5 to 6 drops of red colour in the first glass, 5 to 6 drops of yellow colour in the third glass, and blue colour in the fifth glass.

Step 2-  Fill the glasses with the colours with water. Stir them until the colour is mixed uniformly. Let the other glasses remain empty.

Step 3-  Take five paper towels and fold them into strips. Place one end of the towel in a glass with coloured water, and the other end in the alternate empty glass. Connect all the glasses with the towels in a similar fashion.

Now, the water experiment for kids is set and you come to the observation part. You can sit down, enjoy a few snacks, and watch the experiment progress with your kids. Within a few minutes, you will find the colour wicking up the towels. After some time, the water will travel through the towels and start dripping into the empty glasses. When multiple colours combine in the glass, there will be an effect of colour mixing. For example, the yellow and red water will combine, and result in orange-coloured water in a glass. 

As time goes by, the flow of water will reduce and finally it will stop altogether. Once the walking water experiment for kids is over, you can dry out the rainbow-coloured paper towels to get a beautiful tie-and-dye effect.

water experiment gives paper towels a rainbow effect


So, what causes the water to walk up and travel to another glass. In the next section, we will discuss the science behind the travelling water experiment for kids.

Science Behind the Travelling Water Experiment

The walking water experiment for kids has a lot of science behind it. Firstly, the water rises up the paper towel through capillary action. The fascinating thing is, this ability allows it to rise even against the force of gravity through narrow tubes. This is how water rises through the roots and the stem of plants. 

The force of adhesion working between the water and the solid surface allows it to rise up. In this case, the gaps in the cellulose fibres in the paper towel worked as a narrow tube. This is also called the process of absorption.

At the same time, there is a force of cohesion between the water molecules. This helps to draw more water along the paper towel, and finally, water is transferred to another glass. As the water experiment for kids progresses, the weight of the paper towel increases. Gradually, the gravitational force on the towel will be more than the forces of adhesion and cohesion. This is when the water will stop flowing.

water experiment shows how colour combine


The walking water experiment for kids can also demonstrate how primary colours combine and give rise to secondary colours like green, orange, and purple.


You can try the walking water experiment for kids in different ways. Firstly, you can vary the level of water in the glasses and see how it affects the flow rate. You can also change the type of paper towel and its length. Other varieties of paper, like toilet paper or newspaper can also be tried out. In addition, you can place the glasses at different heights and check how it affects the flow of the water. The kids can keep track of the records and come to a conclusion.

So this is all about the walking water experiment for kids. There are plenty of exciting experiments that you can try at home with stunning results. For more art and craft options for kids in K1 and K2 grade, check out MySparklebox.


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