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Ocean in a bottle

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materials for the project

You’ll need:

  • Small jar or bottle with a tight lid. (baby food jars work great.)
  • Light colored oil (canola or corn oil is fine.)
  • white vinegar
  • blue food coloring
  • a funnel (it makes pouring things easier.)

Step one:

Fill the bottle or jar about one-third of the way up with white vinegar.

Step two:

Add blue food coloring to the white vinegar until you think it looks good.

bottle one third full of white vinegar
bottle with blue food color added

Step three:

Slowly add oil until the jar or bottle is full.

Step four:

Cap the jar tightly.

Step five:

It should look something like this.

bottle swirled around

Step six:

Swirl it around and watch the waves!

Why does this work? Because vinegar and oil don't mix.

jar of oil and vinegar

Why don't they mix?

Two reasons:

Reason #1.

Everything on the planet is made up of matter, which if you look at closely enough -- if you were to shrink down small enough -- you would see was made up of tiny particles called atoms. Even ATOMS are made of smaller parts, called electrons and protons. (The parts get even smaller than THAT, but we're not THAT crafty today.)

Each electron and proton has a charge, like a magnet. Ever play with two magnets?

bottle from a different point of view

Ever notice how you can get two ends to stick together, but the other two ends won't go together at all?

Oil and vinegar are like that, because they have different charges in their electrons and protons.

It makes that big a difference.

Reason #2:

Oil floats to the top because it isn't as dense as vinegar.

Density is how heavy something is, compared to its size. For instance, if you stayed the same size you are, but tomorrow you weighed as much as your teacher, that would mean you were a lot more DENSE than you were the day before.

Vinegar, even though it seems "thinner" than oil, is more dense than oil.

So it stays on the bottom, and can be your "ocean," while oil can be your "sky.

one more look at the bottle



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