For this experiment, we are going to test how marbles behave differently based on the type of liquid they are dropped into. The experiment is a simple way to explain and measure the viscosity of a liquid.
Viscosity of a Liquid Science Experiment Video
- 4 clear glass jars of the same size (we used pint-sized mason jars)
- 4 Marbles
- Water (enough to fill one jar)
- Corn Syrup (enough to fill one jar)
- Cooking Oil (enough to fill one jar)
- Honey (enough to fill one jar)
Step 1 – Gather four clear glass jars and fill one with water, one with corn syrup, one with cooking oil and one with honey.
Step 2 – Carefully drop one marble into each jar. Drop one marble at a time and observe what happens to the marble when it enters the liquid. Which marbles sink to the bottom of the jar quickly and which marbles sink to the bottle of the jar slowly?
How Does the Experiment Work?
The question answered in this experiment is: how does the consistency of a liquid impact how long it will take for a marble to sink in a jar of that liquid?
A unique property of liquids is something called viscosity. Viscosity is a liquid’s resistance to flowing. Viscosity depends on the size and shape of the particles that make the liquid, as well as the attraction between the particles. Liquids that have a LOW viscosity flow quickly (ie. water, rubbing alcohol, and vegetable oil). Liquids that have a HIGH viscosity flow slowly (ie. honey, corn syrup, and molasses). Viscosity can also be thought of as a measure of how “thick” a liquid is. The more viscous (or thick) a liquid is, the longer it will take for an object to move through the liquid.
In our experiment the marbles took longer to sink when dropped into the jars filled with corn syrup and honey than they did when dropped into the jars filled with water and cooking oil. Therefore, we’ve shown that corn syrup and honey have a higher viscosity (or are more viscous) than water and cooking oil.
More Science Fun
- The Pouring Test – When you are finished dropping the marbles into the jars, try pouring the liquids one at a time into another jar. You will notice that it takes longer to pour out the Corn Syrup and Honey than it does to pour out the Water and Cooking Oil. This is because the viscosity of a liquid can also be observed by how slow (or fast) it takes to pour the liquid.
- How Liquids Impact Magnets – You can also observe viscosity liquids with this fun magnetic experiment.
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: