In this practical craft-meets-science activity, participants will learn about the viscosity of two liquids and what that means when other objects flow within them.
- Glass jars with lids (preferably round)
- Hot glue gun and sticks
- Glitter or fake snow
- Plasticine (an oil-based clay that won’t dissolve) of various colours
Have you ever opened the fridge and though to yourself, is maple syrup a liquid? It must be a liquid, right? Because it’s not a solid like ice or a gas like air, but it’s also not like water. It’s much thicker than water. In this fun craft, we’re going to create snow globes as a way to compare how two liquids can both be considered liquids, despite behaving completely differently.
- Distribute two jars to each participant. Have them remove the lids.
- Have participants form some plasticine to the inside of each lid, making sure to stay away from the outer edge of the lid where the ridges are.
- Use additional plasticine to create a figure or shape.
- Make sure that the creation isn’t too tall or wide that the lid won’t close properly onto the jar. Test by closing the jar every once in a while.
- When participants are happy with their creations, fill one jar with cold tap water and the other with glycerin. Be sure to leave enough space at the top of the jars to account for the liquid displacement when closing the lid with the figure and prevent overflow.
- Put in a pinch or two of glitter into each jar. Too much and the plasticine figure could get coated and become invisible!
- Place and tighten the lids with the figures. Before turning over the snowglobes, reinforce them by filling the space in between the lid and jar with hot glue. This will further ensure that there aren’t any leakages.
- Cover the cooled glue with a piece of ribbon, possibly tied into a bow.
- Turn over the snowglobes and them a little shake. Observe how the glitter flows and settles in the water one versus the glycerin one.
- You can also add 1-2 more hockey sticks for each team and call more numbers each round. The first number called becomes a goalie (positioned in a radius a few feet from their team’s goalie net), second number as defense (positioned midway on their team’s side), and third number as offense (positioned near the centre and to begin gameplay). As soon as the third number is called, they can begin trying to score a goal.
- Encourage the participation of other volunteers and staff members. Divide them amongst the two teams and assign them letters instead of numbers. This way the gameplay is promotes fairness by not allowing adults to play against children.
- To further encourage team spirit, consider awarding points each round to the team that best cheering their players on. Could also be used as a means to “balance” out extremely unequal point distribution.
Hot glue guns can be dangerous to work with, especially those in younger age groups. This art tool can get extremely hot, therefore it is imperative to stress to participants not to fool around while using one. It may be a good idea to only allow adult staff to use them.
- Hold the gun firmly in one hand and with your index finger on the trigger, pull lightly and slowly to have the hot glue flow out. Avoid any other part of the gun, especially the tip and the hot glue that exits it. Only touch the glue once it has cooled on the art surface.
Liquids that move and flow quickly, like water, are considered to have low-viscosity, while liquids that move and flow slowly, like glycerin, are considered to have high-viscosity. We often call these liquids “thick”. Highly viscous liquids have particles that that are closer together, thus experiencing more friction and taking more time to move.
- Which snowglobe moved slower?
- What other liquids have a high viscosity?
- What might an advantage of a low viscosity liquid be? Advantage of high viscosity?