Pulse Nightclub Tribute ♥ How to Fold an Origami Heart

Celebrate Pride by Making These Pulse Nightclub Tribute Origami Hearts

This month, we celebrate Pride – a celebration of both the amazing people who fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and honoring the diverse self-expression and love of our LGBTQ+ community.

 

If you’ve been to the Science Center, you may have seen our Love Bridge – an installation of crystal hearts that hang above you as you walk across the bridge from the garage. This was originally made of origami hearts as a Pulse nightclub tribute in memoriam of the 49 people who lost their lives in June of 2016.

 

The Pulse tragedy deeply affected our community and the people of Orlando have continued to honor the souls we lost that night by working to make sure our city becomes a more welcoming place for all people. Inside each origami heart, our guests and staff wrote messages of what love means to them. We invite you to create your own reminder of love with this origami heart tutorial.

 

As we celebrate Pride, and remember the victims of the Pulse tragedy, we invite you to create your own reminder of love with this origami heart tutorial. 

Materials you will need:

  • Origami paper or a sheet of printer paper you can turn it into a square. 
    Learn how to use any paper for origami paper here.

Before you make any folds in your paper, write a message about love – what does it mean to you? 

h

The "Love Bridge" is a community art project created by guests of the Orlando Science Center to show support for the OneOrlando.org fund and those affected by the PULSE Nightclub tragedy.

 

The 7 colors of the rainbow span the length of the bridge in rows of 4. Each row holds a total of 49 origami hearts which represent the lives lost on that tragic night. The origami hearts were made by the community on One Orlando Night at the Museum and are filled with messages of love and hope.

 

The original origami heart installation has been replaced with a crystal version that will withstand the test of time. The original project was reimagined into a permanent tribute called Facets of Love, which hangs in our STEAM Gallery for all to enjoy. 

A girl fold paper into origami heart for Pulse nightclub tribute
Orlando Science Center One Orlando night, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

 

Expand on the activity!

June is Pride Month in the United States. Pride Month is a time to recognize past and present struggles and successes in the ongoing fight for civil rights, as well as to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals.

 

Meet some of the incredible scientists who self-identified as members of LGBTQ+ community and have left a lasting mark on the STEM fields with both their activism and scientific research.

 

Are Lionfish Safe to Eat? How You Can Help Advance Ocean Conservation

Are lionfish safe to eat? If they are, why should we have lionfish for lunch?

Deadly. Beautiful. Devastating. While lionfish may be stunning to look at, this invasive species has been wreaking havoc among marine ecosystems such as coral reefs along Florida coasts since the 1990s. In Florida waters, lionfish have no predators and have been eating many native species of fish, causing great ecological damage, with some areas showing an 85-90% decrease in their native fish.

 

The good news is you can help by having a snack! You probably won't see them on the menu at many seafood restaurants, so you may be wondering "Are lionfish safe to eat?" The answer is yes! 

Lionfish spines are venomous, not poisonous. Meaning, once the spines are removed, the rest of the fish is completely edible – and quite delicious. Not only does eating lionfish help remove these pesky fish from Florida’s waters, but it also offers a sustainable fishing alternative.

 

By including lionfish in your diet, you’re promoting sustainable fishing which is a great way to help advance ocean conservation. Growing demand for seafood has led to fishing practices that are depleting populations of fish and other aquatic creatures. Together, we can make a difference by purchasing seafood from responsible, sustainable fisheries and by creating demand for lionfish by purchasing it directly from reputable sources.

 

This information was sourced from National Geographic and NOAA Fisheries

How to be a Conservation Hero! 

Did you know oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth's water? Although many of us, especially in Florida, think of the oceans as a place to relax and soak up the sun – they are also vital to life on Earth and home to an estimated one million species. It is our duty to help conserve and protect our oceans, and the marine life that inhabit them.

 

There are many ways you can help protect the oceans and marine life. Check out these six ways you can practice ocean-friendly habits and help save our oceans. 

Florida Sea Grant is Making Waves with New Education Program

Florida Sea Grant Presents: Bite-Sized Science

Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program from the University of Florida with a mission to support integrated research, education, and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for the people of Florida. Florida Sea Grant taps into the research expertise of over 800 coastal and ocean scientists across Florida’s 16 major universities and research laboratories. Through their efforts, they support ocean education for students ranging from K-12 to graduate school. OSC's committed effort to improving students' and visitors' understanding of sustainability and conservation aligns with the Florida Sea Grant’s numerous activities that educate people on the importance of preservation and sustainability of Florida’s economically and environmentally vital coastal and marine resources.

 

Florida Sea Grant staff work closely with residents in a variety of educational and outreach programs across the state and in response to social distancing measures scientists and researchers are sharing their research and programming virtually with the public. We wanted to share resources and activities from our friends at Florida Sea Grant about environmental education! Visit their website to learn more!

 

What is Bite-Sized Science?

The Bite-Sized Science webinars are presented by UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant agents. During the webinars, viewers have the opportunity to listen and engage with researchers and scientists while learning about topics ranging from Florida marine life and invasive species like Lion Fish to learning the science behind artificial reefs and bioplastics.

 

Starting in June, Florida Sea Grant webinar topics will focus on harmful algal blooms and cover a range of marine-oriented themes. Webinars are 30 minutes long and include a Q&A with the presenter. Presentations will be recorded and participants will be sent a link to playback the recordings. While the webinars are for a general adult audience, upper-middle and high school students may benefit from supplementing their curriculum and we would encourage families with children to listen in and watch together.

 

Things You Can Make At Home

  • Edible Estuary 
    • Discover how biotic and abiotic components influence our ecosystems
  • Estuary Food Web 
    • This activity shows different animals and plants that live in estuaries and shows the complexity of a food web.
  • Beach Coloring Book
    • Great for kids to color, cut out and assemble. Best for K-2nd
 

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Puffy Paint Technique: Try This Trick for Nearly Perfect Pictures!

Give your old clothes new life with this puffy paint technique!

Looking for an easy way to customize a t-shirt, tote bag, or even a pair of jeans?  Have you been burned in the past with attempting to free-hand a design with puffy paint? Never fear, we’ve got the solution! With this puffy paint technique, you have a chance to refine your design and keep yourself from suffering the agony of using puffy paint with a shaky hand.

Materials you will need:

  • A t-shirt, tote bag, jeans, or another garment you want to add your design to
  • Fabric puffy paint (look for the kind with a thin nozzle, especially if your image has a lot of detail)
  • A pencil
  • A piece of paper large enough for your design
Pencil, paper, t-shirt, and puffy paint needed for puffy paint technique

Directions:

Step 1:

Sketch or print out the design you want on a sheet of paper.

This puffy paint technique will mirror the image, so draw the image flipped from how you want it to appear on the shirt. 

use a pencil to sketch out the design you want to try puffy paint technique

Step 2: 

Prepare your garment. Make sure the area for the design is flat and protect your garment by sliding a piece of cardboard inside your garment where you want your design to go so the paint doesn't bleed through.

Step 3: 

Next, trace over the design in puffy paint. You want to work pretty fast so the paint doesn’t try before you finish your design.

Use the puffy paint technique to trace your design in puffy paint

Step 4:

Pick up the paper and place it paint side down on your shirt in the spot you want your design. Press down all over the back of the paper to push the paint into the fabric, but try not to move the paper around. Peel off the paper and you have your design!

 

If any of the paint dried too much and didn't transfer, you can go over them with the paint directly on the shirt and press down with a clean sheet of paper. Alternatively, retrace your original design, carefully line it up, and repeat the process. Enjoy!

The result of using puffy paint technique on a t-shirt

Expand on the activity!

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Animal Chart Activity: Who Are Your Tree-Dwelling Neighbors?

Find out who's home with this early childhood animal chart activity! 

Age recommendation: 3 – 7 years 

 

Who’s home? The trees all around us are a habitat or home to many different animals. Learn about how a tree can provide shelter, food, and a place to play!  

You can complete this animal chart activity by simply following the steps below, but if you'd like to add to the activity, we recommend you make it a story time with the book The Busy Tree by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Lisa Falkenstern and published by Two Lions, an Amazon Publishing imprint. Get the book on Amazon.com here, or consider getting an e-book or checking it out from your local library if it's available! 

If you want to keep an eye out for the animals you see in The Busy Treeyou can print out this pre-made chart by clicking here. You can also use this chart as a start instead of making your own but keep in mind you may not see all of these animals during your observations. We’ve left one column blank so if you see an animal neighbor who lives near you that isn’t in the book, you can still include them in your data!

Who are your tree-dwelling neighbors? 

Lots of the animals who live in The Busy Tree are animals that we see here in Florida. Take some time to observe the outdoors through a window, in a backyard, or on a nature walk. 

As you’re observing, collect data on what you see! As scientists, when we collect data we are gathering information about something so that we can better understand it. As you collect data on the animals that live in the trees near your home, you are learning more about your environment and the critters who share a space with you. 

Materials For Your Animal Chart Activity:

  • Paper 
  • Clipboard or something to lean and write against 
  • Marker, crayon, or pencil 
  • Straightedge like a ruler, the side of a book, or anything you have on hand
  • Binoculars (optional) 
  • Magnifying glass (optional) 
How to create Orlando Science Center's animal chart activity

Directions:

STEP 1
  • Using your paper and writing utensil, create a simple chart. You can use your straightedge to help you make straight lines.

    A
    chart is a way to keep track of information, this is one of the ways scientists collect data. In our chart we will keep track of which animals we see at the bottom, and how many of that animal we see in the top columns (the tall skinny space above the animal)Be sure to add the date and time you are collecting your observations! 
STEP 2 
  • Attach your chart to a clipboard with your writing utensil and get ready to explore. Binoculars can help you see things that are far away (like up in a tree!) and magnifying glasses can help you see things that are small (like insects at the roots of a tree or on the tree’s bark). Bring binoculars and a magnifying glass if you have them. If not, you can still make amazing observations with just your eyes!  
You tools like binoculars or magnifying glass to help complete your animal chart activity
STEP 3 
  • You need to find a place around your home to observe. This could be in a yard, a nearby park, or out on a walk. Bring your supplies with you to start making observations!
    Always ask a grown-up before going outside!
STEP 4
  • Pay attention to the animals you see around the trees near your home. When you see an animal, write the name of the animal or draw a picture at the bottom of your chart.

Using your animal activity chart, go outside to observe animals and complete chart
STEP 5
  • Make one “x” in the column above an animal for each one you see. Only count an individual animal once! If you see the same squirrel again, don’t make another “x”. If you see a different squirrel, make an “x”. This will make our data more accurate!
STEP 6
  • When you are done observing and collecting data, count how many of each animal you wrote down on your chart. Analyze or think about the information from your chart. Which animal did you see the most? Which animal did you see the least? Why might that be?
Mark which animals you see on your animal activity chart
STEP 7
  • This is an experiment that you can repeat. Some animals are more active during different times of day. Choose a different time of day to collect data from your observations, then compare and contrast the data you have collected. Did you notice more of a certain animal during the evening than during the day? If you repeat this experiment all year, you may notice different animals are busier during certain seasons.
STEP 8
  • Enjoy getting to know your animal neighbors!
collect data by marking the animals you observe on your animal activity chart

Be a citizen scientist!

You can become a citizen scientist when you use the data you collect while watching animals around your home to help real-life scientists with their projects! Check out the projects below to see how you can help.

Always ask a grown-up before visiting a new website and before posting anything online!

 

The Lost Ladybug Project

Website: http://www.lostladybug.org/

If you come across ladybugs during your observations, consider contributing to The Lost Ladybug Project. This project is investigating ladybug diversity and will help scientists better understand where all of the native ladybugs have gone as well as provide information for other insect species!

 

Project Noah

Website: https://www.projectnoah.org/

Share your observations with pictures and notes through Project Noah. Project Noah is a place where people like you can help keep track of wildlife by sharing what you see! Researchers can then use your observations to collect ecological data (that’s information about how living things depend on one another).

 

iNaturalist

Website: https://www.inaturalist.org/

Citizen scientists all over the world observe animals and plants just like you are in our activity! You can share your observations on iNaturalist with others who love nature. The data that you and others share can be used by scientists globally (that means all over the world!) to help them with their projects.

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Educational Messy Science Experiments from the OSC Vault!

We've ranked our favorite educational messy science experiments by messiness!

Every year, Orlando Science Center staff celebrates "Mess Month" which features some of gooiest, slimiest, messiest activities on a giant scale. Think foam-splosion, pendulum painting, pools of slime... you get the picture. We love our mess-tivities so much that we wanted to make sure you could enjoy educational messy science experiments all year long, so we adapted some of our favorites projects so you could try them at home!

 
From the ultimate slime time to some good clean fun will minimal clean-up,find them all in one place below! Be sure to use the Mess-O-Meter rating to find a mess-tivity fit for you! If you take any photos, don't forget to share them with us on social media by tagging Orlando Science Center and using #OSCatHome or you can submit them directly through our Science Showcase.

1. Ooey-GooeyOobleck

Mess-O-Meter Level: Very Messy

Make a big mess with just two ingredients! Learn about the states of matter and viscosity, practice lab skills like measuring and mixing with  this educational messy science experiment that's so fun, you won't even realize you're learning!

2. Cool and Colorful Ice Chalk 

Mess-O-Meter Level: Moderately Messy

The mess never bothered us anyway! Step up your driveway art with the coolest sidewalk chalk  around! Just be sure to wash away your artwork when you're finished to avoid stains. 

3. Forensic Science Spatter Painting

Mess-O-Meter Level: Moderately Messy

I spy with my little eye some messy fun! This educational messy science experiment will leave you with some new vocabulary words and a work of art!

4. Colorful Coffee Filter Experiment

Mess-O-Meter Level: Minimal Mess

Watch water defy gravity before your very eyes! This colorful experiment will help teach little learners about capillary action with a beautiful visual aid! And the best part is, it's all contained in a cup so cleanup is a breeze. 

5. Demonstrating Laminar Flow

Mess-O-Meter Level: Barely Messy

Looking for some good clean fun?  This experiment is maximum fun with minimal cleanup! Just make sure you're doing your demonstration outdoors. Let's learn how you can freeze time with water and a balloon!

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DIY pH Indicators: Turn Your Kitchen Into a Chemistry Lab!

Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab by making your own DIY pH Indicators!

pH is a measurement of how acidic or basic something is on a scale of 0-14. 

 

Testing how acidic or basic something is with a color-changing indicator is a staple of many chemistry experiments. Now you can try it too! Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with DIY pH indicators!

 

A substance with a pH of 7 (like distilled water) is neutral. A substance with a pH of less than 7 is an acid. The closer the number gets to zero, the stronger the acid is. A substance with a pH of more than 7 is a base. The closer the number is to 14, the stronger the base is.

 

Try making one of these two natural DIY pH indicators and use it to test the pH of things you find around your home!

 

Recommend Age: 8+ with adult help for chopping and boiling.

Materials you will need for a red cabbage pH indicator:

  • Red cabbage
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Warm water
  • Blender
  • Strainer or funnel with coffee filter
  • Container to collect indicator


WARNING: Cabbage and blueberry juices can stain clothes! Mess-friendly play clothes or coverings such as aprons are recommended for this activity.

You can can make a variety ph indicators with Orlando Science Center

Directions for making red cabbage pH indicator:

STEP 1
  • Peel 3 or 4 big leaves off a head of red cabbage and chop the leaves into small pieces.
  • Fill a blender halfway with hot water.
  • Add the chopped cabbage leaves to the blender.
  • Blend the leaves and water on high until the liquid turns purple and all the leaves are blended.

    *Alternatively, you can boil the chopped leaves in just enough water to cover them for a few minutes, then let steep for 30-60 minutes.

Red cabbage for DIY pH indicators
STEP 2 
  • Place a strainer or funnel lined with a coffee filter over a container to collect the indictor, such as bowl, pot, or bottle.
  • Pour the mixture through the strainer to remove the cabbage pulp.
  • Push down on the pulp in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out more liquid.
strain blended cabbage for purple diy ph indicator
STEP 3
  • The purple liquid in your container is your indicator solution. The exact color will vary depending on the pH of the water you used.
  • Experiment with the indicator using the ideas below!
  • Red cabbage indicator can be saved in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Result of blending red cabbage to create diy ph indicator

Materials you will need for a blueberry pH indicator:

  • 200g blueberries
  • Masher, spoon, or spatula to mash blueberries
  • Water
  • Pot
  • Strainer or funnel with coffee filter
  • Container to collect indicator

Directions for making blueberry pH indicator:

STEP 1
  • Mash the blueberries in a bowl or pot to release the blueberry juice.
  • Add mashed blueberries, juice, and a half cup of water to a pot.
  • Boil the blueberries for 5-10 minutes. The blueberry juice will turn red-purple.
Mash and boil blueberries to make a blue DIY ph indicator
STEP 2
  • Place a strainer or funnel lined with a coffee filter over a container to collect the indictor.
  • Pour the mixture through the strainer to remove the blueberry skins.
  • Push down on the skins in the strainer with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out more liquid.
  • The purple liquid in your container is your indicator solution. The exact color will vary depending on the pH of the water you used.
result of using blueberries to make another diy ph indicator

What to do with your DIY pH indicators 

Now that you have your pH indicators, it's time to get to testing! Use household liquids such as salt or distilled water, different fruit juices, milk, liquid detergent or soap, and more!

  • Add each of the substances you would like to test to the cups. (Only add one substance to each cup.) 
  • Add a spoonful of indicator to the first cup, and stir the indicator into the substance.
  • Observe the color changes. What do you see? Encourage your scientist to write down what color each substance turns. You can use crayons or markers to help keep track of color changes.
You can use different household liquids to test you DIY indicators

Expand on the Activity:

  • What color changes did you see? Did you notice any patterns?
  • If you use vinegar or lemon juice, what do you think will happen to the color of the DIY pH indicator if you add baking soda or an antacid tablet

  • For another hands-on chemistry experiment, try making your own STEM slime activity

The Science: pH and pH indicators

  • pH is a measurement of how acidic or basic something is. It is measured on a scale of 0-14.
  • A substance with a pH of 7 (like distilled water) is neutral. A substance with a pH of less than 7 is an acid. The closer the number gets to zero, the stronger the acid is. A substance with a pH of more than 7 is a base. The closer the number is to 14, the stronger the base is.
  • Strong acids and bases can be very dangerous, while weaker acids and bases (those with a pH close to 7) are safer to use.
  • We find acids in many of the foods we eat, as well as in our stomachs. Acids found in foods give them a sour taste.
  • Bases are commonly found in cleaning products and antacid medications. Bases feel slippery and are rare in food because they taste bitter. For reference, think about the taste of soap!
  • pH indicators are compounds that change color in the presence of an acid or a base.
  • Different pH indicators have different ranges. Some may only be able to show whether something is acidic or basic, while others may have a wide range of colors that can show different strengths of acids and bases. Some may be better for showing the pH of acids, while others may be better at showing the pH of bases. In a lab, the best indicator to use depends on the pH range you want to see.

Learn More: Chemistry

  • There are several different definitions of acids and bases in chemistry.
  • A simple chemical definition of an acid is a substance that releases hydrogen ions (H+) when dissolved in water. A simple chemical definition of a base is a substance that makes hydroxide ions (OH-) when dissolved in water or a substance that takes hydrogen ions from an acid.
  • Ions are positively (+) or negatively (-) charged particles of an element.
  • Many red, purple, and blue plants contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which are weak acids that dissolve in water and change color in response to changes in pH. Because of this, plants with anthocyanins like red cabbage and blueberries can easily be made into pH indicators.

Did you make and test your own indicator? We’d love to see how it turned out! Snap a photo of you making or experimenting with your indicator and submit it to our Science Showcase here or use #OSCatHome on social media!

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In these ever-changing times, it is our pleasure to adapt quality Orlando Science Center experiences to engage with everyone while they are safe at home. Please consider supporting our operating fund to ensure we can continue developing resources today and well into the future. Thank you for your generosity and support!

Salt Watercolor Painting Project • Paint Outside the Box

Brush up on your art skills with this salt & watercolor painting project

Think (or paint) outside the box wiht this unique painting technique! One-part experiment, one-part art experience, this salt & watercolor painting project will give you a wall-worthy finished project, while you learn some STEM skills along the way. 

Materials you will need:

  • Paper (Watercolor paper works best, but cardstock or sketchbook paper can also work)
  • Paintbrush
  • Watercolor paints
  • Salt
  • Water to rinse your painbrush
Materials needed to complete Orlando Science Center's salt and watercolor painting project

Directions:

Step 1

Set up your workspace and start painting! Keep in mind, your painting will change when you add the salt, so don’t worry too much about the details!

Begin your saltwater painting project by beginning to paint

Step 2

While your painting is still wet to the touch, sprinkle it with salt. Watch closely as the salt absorbs the water on your paper, and some of the color along with it! 

Observes salt on your watercolor painting project

Step 3 

When you’re finished, let your salt and watercolor painting project is completely dry, and gently rub the salt off the paper.

The result of salt and watercolor painting project

Expand on the Activity:

  • Try different kinds of salt! Table salt, sea salt, and rock salt are all great to try. How does the size of the salt grain impact what you see happen on your painting?

  • The amount of water on your paper will have a big impact on how it looks when you add the salt. Experiment with adding the salt at different points as your painting dries to see which effect is your favorite.

  • For another colorful activity with water, try this colorful coffee filter experiment!

 

Be sure to share your salt watercolor painting project with us by submitting a photo or video to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

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Science Prototyping Fails from Orlando Science Center Staff

Prototyping fails are a part of science. Check out some of ours!

Sometimes you don't get it right on the first try, or the second, or the thirtieth. But that's OK! In science, prototyping fails are a big part of the process. We try to always showcase our best work, but here are some messiest mistakes with you in honor of Mess Month! Enjoy!

Rainbow So-dud

We tried to do a Diet Coke and Mentos style fountain with different colored sodas to make a rainbow! We even invited some guests to watch us prototype, but as you can see it did not make for a quality show.

Indoor Foam-splosion

Leading up to Mess Fest last year, we invited some news anchors to come experience the mess with us outdoors. The weather didn’t cooperate with our plans, so we moved inside. We had forgotten how messy a foam explosion really is!

Foam explosion science fail inside Orlando Science Center

Diet Coke Disaster

During Mess Fest, we do several Diet Coke and Mentos fountains. In 2019, we bought 30 Diet Coke bottles for the occasion. Only 29 made it inside – one exploded at our loading dock.

two people standing in a puddle of diet coke

You Don't Want to Eat This Spaghetti

If you’ve done our 3D Design workshop in The Hive, you know how that even the smallest flaw in a 3D print can make things go awry. Whether it was the leveling of the print bed, the design sticking to the extruder, or something else, this vase did not turn out as expected.

3D printed vase prototyping fail

Basket Weaving Misadventure

We’ve been pretty lucky with our open make activities in The Hive. Usually, we prototype for a day or two, make adjustments, and end up with a successful activity. Basket weaving did not go this way! We ended up using most of our supplies in one day and ending up with a tangled mess of paper rods.

A failed attempt at basket weaving

A Colossal Cleanup

KidsTown gets messy on purpose pretty often – sensory play is an engaging way to learn fine motor skills, cause and effect, and more. But the cleanup can be a different story! Our staff and interns had to scrub for a long time to get all the paint off their hands!

Two people with paint on their hands at orlando science center in kidstown

What science mishaps have you had?

Be sure to submit your photos and videos of your experiments to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center on social media and use hashtag #OSCatHome for a chance to be featured on our channels! 

As Miss Frizzle says, take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!

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Colorful Coffee Filter Experiment: Defy Gravity with Capillary Action

See water flow upwards with this colorful coffee filter experiment!

Capillary action is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces. With capillary action, water can even flow upward against gravity!  You can observe capillary action all around you, for example, it's what moves the water up through plant roots and your tears through your tear ducts. 

 

It's hard to visualize but when you use our steps for this colorful coffee filter experiment to add an explosion of color, it will come together! Once your coffee filters have dried, you can use the them for other craft projects!

 

For more amazing experiments with water, see how you can freeze time through laminar flow

 

Materials:

  • Coffee filters
  • Markers
  • Water
  • A  small clear cup or glass

Directions:

STEP 1
  • Use the markers to draw all over the coffee filter.

    The more colors you use, the more vibrant your colorful coffee filter experiment will be.

STEP 2
  • Fold the coffee filter in half.  Then in half one more time.
colorful markers patterns drawn on coffee filters
STEP 3
  • Add enough water to the cup to just barely cover the bottom and set your coffee filter in the cup.

This will take a few minutes, so you can use this time to talk about capillary action or ask these questions to expand on the activity:

  1. How do the colors change as they move up the coffee filter?
  2. Do you see any colors mix? What new colors do you see?
  3. Did any colors disappear?
  4. Why do you think this is happening?
     
soak colorful coffee filters in water to see capillary action
STEP 4
  • Once the water has reached the top of the coffee filter or has stopped moving, remove your coffee filter from the cup and open it up!

 

STEP 5
  • Let your colorful coffee filter experiment dry and then upcycle it for your next maker project!
Wet colorful capillary coffee filters drying

Expand on the Activity:

  • What happens if you only use one color, like green or black? How does the color of the ink change as it spreads out? Why do you think this happens?
  • Once they’ve dried, the coffee filters can be used as colorful tissue paper in craft projects. Try making flowers, snowflakes, monsters, butterflies, or any other creation you can think of!

 

If you had fun learning about capillary action and snapped some photos, be sure to submit it to our Science Showcase here or tag Orlando Science Center and use #OSCatHome on social media! You might be featured on our channels. 

The Science: Capillary Action & Chromatography

  • Water molecules are “sticky.”
    • Water molecules like to stay close together because of a force called cohesion.
    • However, they also are attracted and like to stick to other substances, like glass, cloth, soil, and fibers. This is known as adhesion.
    • When there is more adhesion than cohesion (or when the water molecules stick the surrounding surfaces more than each other), capillary action occurs, causing the water molecules to move up or across the surface.
  • In your experiment, water uses this process to move along the tiny gaps in the fiber of the coffee filter. It will keep going up the filter until the pull of gravity is too much for it to overcome.
  • Where does capillary action occur in the real world?
    • Plants suck up water through their roots, and capillary action is what moves the water up through the roots and throughout the plants.
    • Your tears undergo capillary action to move through your tear ducts.
    • Capillary action is in play in sucking water up a straw.
  • As the water moves up the coffee filter, it dissolves the ink from the markers. The dissolved ink travels with the water and spreads out, coloring the coffee filter.

Learn More: Paper Chromatography

  • Inks are mixtures of many different-colored molecules. Paper chromatography separates out the molecules, showing all the individual colors.
  • How does this work?
  • A solvent (a liquid that dissolves a substance) is used is dissolve the ink. The most common solvents in paper chromatography are water and rubbing alcohol.
  • Through capillary action, the solvent keeps moving up the paper and carries the different molecules in the ink with it.
  • The different-colored molecules are also different sizes. Larger molecules move more slowly and not as far. Smaller molecules move more quickly and farther. The difference in molecule sizes causes the colors to separate.
  • Scientists use paper chromatography to separate colored pigments, to monitor reactions, to isolate and purify substances, to analyze food dyes, and to investigate evidence found at crime scenes.

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