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Spoon Spill

Students explore water absorbency in this fast-paced game.

Usually, when you spill water on your favourite drawing, it is not fun. In this game, however, the point of the game is to see whose paper gets the soggiest.

Absorbency is a material's ability to hold or soak up liquid. Little air pockets in the material will hold the water until it is squeezed out.

Liquid enters the material via capillary action (the adhesive force between the liquid and the material is greater than the cohesive force keeping the liquid together).

Fun Fact: A natural sponge can absorb up to 150 percent of its own weight in water!

Objectives

  • Describe the features of absorbency.

Materials

  • Per Student:
    plastic spoon

  • Per Group:
    sheet of dark coloured construction paper
    water container (bucket or large plastic cup)
    rope or cones to mark the start line
    something to act as a weight (shoe, paperweight, ball)

Key Questions

  • What force acts on the tossed water to bring it down to the paper?

What To Do

Setup

  1. Mark the starting line with rope or cones.
  2. Space out the buckets of water, parallel to the start line, about 6 m away.
  3. Place a piece of construction paper about one metre beyond each bucket on the ground

Game

  1. Give each student a spoon.
  2. Divide the class into teams of 6–7 students.
  3. Each team lines up at the starting line.
  4. The first player of each team must run to their team’s water container, dip their teaspoon in, and attempt to toss the water onto the construction paper that’s on the ground. They must not move from the bucket for the ‘throw’.
  5. They then run back and tag the next player in their team who takes his turn.
  6. The team that manages to get their construction paper the soggiest in the shortest time (or when the game ends) are the winners.
  7. To determine how “soggy” the paper is, get two students to hold the paper by the corners and see if it can hold the weight without tearing.

Extensions

  • Increase the distances from the starting line to the bucket and from the bucket to the piece of paper.
  • Why are paper cups able to carry water without getting soggy?