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Sink or Float? A Simple, Hands-on Preschool Experiment

Sink or Float? A Simple, Hands-on Preschool Experiment
 We have a new water table thanks to Grandma and Grandpa. This addition immediately got me thinking of fun, new experiments we could do. Of course the kids just loves splashing in it as is too.  The first few times the kids played with it were fairly uneventful.

Then I attempted to be productive while they played with it. We all know how that story ends...

While they sounded quite happy while I tried to help the overgrown flower beds, I looked over to a water table full of muddy water! Both girls had carried dirt from a nearby flower bed over to the water table.  Everything was filthy including the kids! However my oldest did inform me that dirt sinks, so that is where today's experiment started.

Sink of Float Preschool Density Experiment

Supplies for a Float and Sink Experiment

  • Tub of water (or in our case a water table)
  • Random object from around the house with varying densities

Instructions for a Hands-on Experiment in Density

Today we put various items in the water table to see if the would sink or float.  I told each of the girls to go find some objects they wanted to test, and I grabbed a few
 things too. 

Before we placed the item in the water I asked the girls if they thought it would sink or float, and they got a lot of the right.  I say I asked before, but sometimes it was more like as they put it in the water. They just couldn't wait to test something else.  

Their selection of items was pretty funny though. The oldest chose several different items including poker chips, a wooden block, squinkies
, and a car; while my younger daughter chose 4 different 
My Little Ponies and a dice.  I included marbles, marshmallows, dry, hollow noodles, apple slices, and packing peanuts.  We threw some grass and tree bark in as well while we were outside.

What floated: marshmallows, apple slices, wooden block, packing peanuts, My Little Ponies (all of them; doesn't matter which one it is even though we tested all four), tree bark, and grass.

My oldest thought the marshmallow would sink, so she kept trying to push it to the bottom. Even the littlest enjoyed catching the marshmallows.

Marshmallows float even if you want them to sink.

The apple slices floated as well, but the baby just wanted to eat those.

Other things that floated were wooden blocks which the girls were sure would sink and packing peanuts!

What sunk: marbles, noodles, poker chips, squinkies, dice, and the toy car.

Not surprisingly the dice sunk as it was a plastic on as did the squinkie. Are squinkies still a thing? I hope for everyone else's sake they are not. Luckily this was one of the very few we ever acquired.

The poker chips sank and so did the uncooked pasta. The girls were really surprised by the pasta. They were certain it would float. 

In the end the girls really didn't do too bad with their guessing. The experiment quickly turned into splashing in the water and the girls playing with ponies. In the end it gave them the idea that things either float or sink, and it isn't always which you suspect. We talked a little about density, but the word doesn't stick so well with preschoolers. 

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