Help water 'escape' from one glass to another, using only paper towels!

In this simple demonstration, students observe the effects of capillary action, the process of water moving from one place to another through tiny gaps or tubes in a material.

Capillary action is how water moves through a plant. It's also how water moves through a 'wick' made of paper towels. Water wants to stick to the paper towel more than it wants to stick to itself, sitting in the glass. So, it moves along the paper towel through tiny gaps in the fibre of the towel, until it 'escapes' into the empty glass.

Wet and Dry Printable guide.

These activities are part of Science World's Big Science For Little Hands program. They were developed and tested with preschool and kindergarten educators.

### Objectives

• Observe the effects of capillary action using water and a paper towel wick.

### Materials

• Per Demo or Student:
a couple of paper towels
2 glasses
water

### Key Questions

• Did the empty glass fill with water? How?
• How much water is still in the first glass?
• Does the paper towel look and feel different? Why do you think it does?
• Do you think this could be how a plant "drinks" water?

### What To Do

1. Fill one glass with water and leave the second glass empty. Place them beside each other.
2. Twist the paper towels together so that they look like a rope. This will be the ‘wick’ that the water travels through.
3. Place one end of the ‘wick’ in the glass of water and the other end in the empty glass. It will take a few minutes, but you should start to see water dripping off the paper towel and into the empty glass.
4. Continue to check the demonstration throughout the day, or the next day, to see what happens. Eventually, both glasses should be about half-full.

### Extensions

• Try adding food colouring to the water - it may be easier to keep track of the water's progress this way.
• Experiment with height. Elevate the full glass above the empty glass, or the other way around. Does it change the results?
• Try adding a third glass! Fill two glasses, and leave an empty glass between them, with two paper towel wicks from the full glasses sitting in the empty glass.
• Experiment with colour, too! Add separate food colouring to the glasses of water, then predict the colour of the water that fills the middle glass.

Survivors

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

Egg BB

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

Comet Crisp

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

T-Rex and Baby

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

Buddy the T-Rex

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

Geodessy

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

Science Buddies

Artist: Ty Dale

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.

Western Dinosaur

Artist: Ty Dale

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.