Light Box Science: Oil and Colored Water
I grabbed one light box and the translucent tray to go on top. I also got out some cooking oil, food coloring, and four 2 oz squeeze bottles filled about halfway with water and gathered the children around the light box on the kitchen floor.
I asked them what happens when you mix food coloring with water. They replied that the water gets colored. "True," I said. "So, water and food coloring mix well together?" They agreed. We then colored each of the four bottles a different color.
Then I poured enough oil into the tray to completely cover the bottom and let them touch and explore the texture of the oil. After a few minutes I asked them what they thought would happen when we put the colored water in the oil. They guessed that the oil would "get colored." I said said, "Let's see." I put a few drops in and we talked about how water and oil don't mix well and so the droplets of water stay suspended in the oil. Then I just let them play. They had so much fun.
They were tentative at first, getting the feel for the squeeze bottles (it was the first time we used them) but soon the tray began to fill with tiny droplets of colored water. It was quite pretty.
They discovered they could make their dots bigger by putting several drops in the same place and even blend colors by using two or more colors in the same dot.
We found we could make two dots side by side that were "friends" until one inevitably got too pushy and absorbed the other. That was a very cool effect and the kids reproduced it many times.
Finally, before cleaning up, I let them get their hands back in. Ava just enjoyed the sensory experience. Michael noticed he could disturb all the big dots and make them into itty bitty tiny ones and enjoyed destroying every big dot he could find.
Cleanup was as easy and rinsing the tray out and then using dishwashing liquid to get the oil residue out of the tray so it would be ready for the next experiment.