Walking Water Experiment

Can Water Really Walk? Find Out By Performing The Walking Water Science Experiment

Children are always curious about their surroundings, they love to touch and feel various objects and experiment with them. This also helps them develop their sense of touch and sight and helps them explore and discover the world. They are brimming with a million questions and love to find answers to these questions. Water is one of those things kids love to play with and are always curious about. Help your child learn about water, the life-sustaining liquid, using this simple yet magical walking water experiment. 

The walking water science experiment is easy to set up and the results will leave your kids in awe. It is one of the coolest science experiments for kids. The purpose of the walking water experiment is to teach children how water can flow without the help of external forces. Additionally, it also helps kids learn how primary colors mix to form new colors. Learn about this awesome walking water experiment below.

Performing The Walking Water Science Experiment

Water is an important part of our lives. We need water to survive, it helps regulate our body temperature and carries nutrients throughout our bodies and provides nourishment. Let’s learn about some of the properties of water using this simple science experiment. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to set up and perform the walking water experiment with your kids.

Things You’ll Need For The Walking Water Experiment

You don’t need a lot of things to perform this experiment. All of these things are easily available and inexpensive. Here is a list of things you’ll need to set up the walking water experiment.

You’ll need:

  • Water
  • Red, blue and yellow liquid food coloring
  • 7 clear cups or glasses of equal height
  • 6 sheets of paper towels, folded in half twice, lengthwise

Step-By-Step Guide To Performing The Walking Water Experiment

So, can water really walk? Find out by performing this simple and fun science experiment with your kids.

  • Step 1: Place the 7 cups in a straight line with a 2-inch gap in between each cup.
  • Step 2: Pour water into the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th cups until they’re about ¾ full. The 2nd, 4th and 6th cups should be empty.
  • Step 3: Add 3 drops of red food coloring to the 1st and 7th cups. Then add 3 drops of yellow food coloring to the 3rd cup and 3 drops of blue food coloring to the 5th cup. Stir until the food coloring is completely dissolved. 
  • Step 4: Trim off a small piece at the end so that you don’t have too much paper towel sticking in the air between the cups. Place 6 sheets of the folded paper towels in the glasses. Place it so that one end of the folded kitchen towel is in the glass with water and the other end in the empty glass.
  • Step 5:  After a while, you’ll observe that the water crawls up the paper towel and it changes color. Additionally, after a few hours, the empty glass will be filled with water. So, you’ve officially made the water walk!
  • Step 6: After a few hours, you’ll find that red and yellow mix to create orange and blue and yellow mix to create green.
  • Step 7: In about 2-3 hours, you’ll notice that the empty cups will be completely filled with new colors. You now have a walking rainbow!

How long does the walking water experiment take overall? The set-up is simple, but it will take a little under 3 hours for the results to show.

The Science Behind The Walking Water Experiment

Kids learn about the mixing of colors. But apart from that, the walking water experiment helps kids learn about capillary action too. 

What is capillary action? 

In this experiment, you’ll notice how the water moves up the paper towels along with the food dye molecules. It is due to capillary action. This is the same way that the roots of trees absorb water from the ground. 

The fibres that are found in plants are the same as those found in paper towels and are called cellulose. They absorb water and the water travels through the gaps in the paper towel and into the empty glass. The attractive forces between the water and fibres in the paper towel helps the water move upwards against gravity. 

How does the water stick to the paper towel?

The water molecules stick to the cellulose fibres in the paper towel because of adhesion. These molecules are also attracted to each other and try to stick close together, this process is called cohesion. This cohesive force helps draw more water upwards and into the empty glass.

Why does the water stop moving after a while?

Eventually, both the cohesive and adhesive forces will be overcome by gravity. At this point, the water stops travelling or moving up the paper towel.

Questions To Ask On The Walking Water Science Experiment 

While you wait for the walking water experiment results, you could ask your child a few questions:

  • What do you think will happen during the walking water science experiment?
  • Do you think all the water from one glass might move to the other?
  • What are some of your other predictions?
  • What do you think might happen if you wait longer?

Liked the Walking Water Experiment? Check Out Similar Water Science Experiments

Here are a few other experiments similar to the water walking experiment you can try:

  1. Color-Changing Water Experiment
  2. Water Temperature Science Experiment

Experiment 1: Color Changing Water Experiment

Take a glass of water and put in a few drops of blue food coloring. Take another glass of water and put a few drops of yellow food coloring. Next, take a big empty bowl and place your glass of water with blue coloring right in the center. Next, empty your glass with yellow food coloring water into this bowl. You’ll find that one portion of the water appears green because of the combination of blue and yellow colors. This experiment explores similar concepts as the walking water experiment.

Experiment 2: Water Temperature Science Experiment

Like the walking water experiment, this experiment also explores the mixing of colors. To begin with, take three cups of water at different temperatures: cold, room temperature, and hot. Next, add a few drops of food coloring to each cup of water. You’ll notice that the food color behaves differently in each of the cups. The food color mixes slowly in the cup with cold water. The food coloring mixes the quickest in the cup that has hot water. This happens because hot water has higher thermal energy. When a liquid has higher thermal energy, the molecules in it move faster. The food color mixed slowly in cold water because it has low thermal energy, so the molecules move slowly.

For more hands-on, fun science experiments for kids, check the rest of our website. We also offer a wide range of STEM activities for kids that blend learning and fun, while sparking your little one’s creativity, curiosity, and imagination.