Science for Kids: Water bottle fountain

Jul 25, 2012

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A little while back while watching our favourite kid's show together, Play School (Australia), we saw them do a very cool experiment that we just had to have a go of ourselves.

This experiment allows children to see that air takes up room and is always present even though we can't see it.

Ages: 2 -12+ 
(see the bottom on how to simplify or extend to meet the needs of your child)



Materials:
  • Empty water bottle 
  • balloon
  • straw 
  • blu-tac (or similar)
  • tray for catching the water (optional. You could always do it outside, in a bath, or near a sink)




Begin by blowing up a balloon and asking your child "What is in the balloon?"

Let the balloon go and talk about what happens.


Next: Take the empty water bottle and ask your child "What is in the bottle?"

Blow up the balloon again and place the mouth of the balloon over the empty bottle without letting too much air escape.

Ask your child, "Why isn't the balloon going down?"


Investigating to see if she can see why the balloon is not going down.



Explain that the balloon is not going down because the bottle is full of air so the air inside the balloon has no where to escape.



Now, to make the water bottle fountain



Carefully, with a pen, poke a hole in the empty bottle just big enough for a straw to poke through and seal with blue tac. (This is the hardest part of the activity and is best done by an adult. If the bottle is wet, the blu-tac will be hard to stick)


Ask your child, "What do you think will happen if we pour water in?"




Pour water into the bottle over the level of the hole.
(NOTE: Make sure that your straw is pointing up, (unlike what's pictured here) and that you fill the water so that it's level with the very top of the straw.. this is because water will level itself out so anything above the top of the straw will probably come out)



Plug any leaks that you have by squishing down the blu-tac. 
At this point with the water at the same level as the top of the straw, it will not come out.
This, you can see was quite surprising for her :)



Blow up the balloon, hold it closed and put the mouth over the top of the bottle.
Let go, and wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! a fabulous fountain!



She loved that you could see the balloon go down as the water streamed out the straw




She understood that "the air in the balloon pushed down on the water and forced it up the straw."


But she especially loved it when the balloon ran out of air and the water fountain did some funny last spits before stopping!



Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by not questioning your child as much and just letting them experience the joy of the water spouting out the straw as the balloon. Do the very start of the activity with the air and let it rush out on their fingers or toes and then ask them what's in the balloon or tell them that what was in the balloon was air. When you show them the water fountain experiment, tell them that the air in the balloon is pushing down on the water like it did on their toes, so the water goes up the straw.

- Extend this activity by having your child make the prediction about what they think is going to happen etc. You could even extend as far as having them write a report on it or write it up properly with a hypothesis etc.

- Allow your child to manipulate or be in control of as many of the steps as they are capable of. 

- Talk with your child about what they are doing. This will help them understand the physical and mental processes they are going through as well as giving them the vocabulary to describe it.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "invisible" and "pressure." This will help with their language development.

- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests.



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Happy playing,
Debs :)






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52 comments:

  1. Great step by step post. I especially like your suggestions for helping to explain the science behind. Sometimes we rush through just to see the end results and miss the important science ideas behind it all. Will try this with my kids since a few months ago they made their own water fountains using small hand pumps they had from a different toy. Thanks it will keep us occupied tomorrow!

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  2. Great directions! I love it. I think this will be a tub-time activity tonight or tomorrow. Thanks!

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  3. Wonderful! Can't wait to try this with my son :)

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  4. I love the expressions you've caught on camera. I think it's safe to say this was a highly successful learning experience for your little girl. Well done.

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  5. That is so cool. I am pinning this and giving it a go. :)

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  6. Such a cool experiment! Play school has such great ideas!!!

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  7. My 5 yr old saw this on my screen last night and practically insisted we do it today! It was so fun, for me too! Do you mind if I post about it with a big ole link to you? I always give credit where credit is due!

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    1. Go for it Tricia. Too fun not to share :) I look forward to seeing yours. Debs

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  8. Great idea...so very cool! I bet my 2 year old would love this. I'm going to feature this tomorrow on my Kids' Co-op Post. Come on by and check it out. www.dirtandboogers.com

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  9. this is beyond awesome! i pinned it to 2 boards and sharing it on FB. and i love love love those pics of her!

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  10. Fantastic fun here Deb....got to love playschool! The real star of this activity though is that gorgeous model in your photos...what fun she is having!!!

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  11. I love this Science activity! How fun! Pinned :)

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  12. What a great activity. My kid loves water fountains, so I'm sure it will be a winner in our home. I will pin. : )

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  13. I love her excitement! Great fun!
    Mari

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  14. This such a neat idea. I'd have never came up with this one.

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  15. Love finding new experiments to add to my to do list! This is brilliant and so easy cant wait till my wee boy is old enough to participate in things like this :) Loving the photos as well your wee girl looks so excited and just makes me want to do this even more!

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  16. Pebble and I were just looking through blogs together and she really wanted to do this, so that's what were doing bright and early this Sunday morning! Thanks.

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  17. The last photo of her face is priceless. <3 it. :)
    Sounds like a fun & simple activity to do with my kiddo!

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  18. This is super cool! I can't wait to try this myself!! Thank you!

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  19. Love your daughter's fascination with this! Her facial expressions are priceless! What do you have under the bottle catching all the water? Is it a round tray? We do most of our science outside to contain the mess. I need something like that to do more inside.

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    1. Hi Leigh. It's just a plastic tray like you said. One of those large platter type ones that you can get from the supermarket for a couple of dollars. Thanks for your comment :)

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  20. Love your daughter's fascination with this! Her facial expressions are priceless! What do you have under the bottle catching all the water? Is it a round tray? We do most of our science outside to contain the mess. I need something like that to do more inside.

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  21. How fun! I LOVE that photo at the end!

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  22. I am dropping by to let you know I am featuring this on Tuesday Tots this week! I also shared it on m Facebook page a few days ago. My readers loved it :) SO FUN!

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  23. What a great experiement.My daughter would love this,too.I love seeing your daughter's surprise :)

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  24. How great! I love the fun experiment! Thank you for sharing this at Saturday Show and Tell. I can't wait to see what you have for this week! I look forward to seeing you there.
    -Mackenzie
    http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com

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  25. Oh, how fun!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

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  26. Fantastic. I'd love to try this and post on Science Sparks if you didn't mind? We would link back to you?

    Thanks,

    Emma

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    1. Thanks Emma, and of course I don't mind. I share them to be done, not admired haha.. and this is a really fun one. I can't wait to see how it all goes for you guys :D Debs

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  27. This is such a cool thing to do with the kids! I love that you can adapt it to different ages. Thank you so much for sharing this post with our Bonbon Break readers this week! I know they are going to love this post and your site as much as I do!

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  28. I chose this post as one of my 'Montessori top 12 in 2012'. I used a Pinterest pin of your graphic so please let me know if this is not OK. You can see the post here http://montessoriconfessions.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-top-montessori-12-in-2012.html

    This is a blog hop if you want to join us!

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    1. Thanks Lisa. How lovely of you. That is fine :)

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  29. Hi, we just tried this & had trouble.getting the blue tak to stick, play dough didn't work either. Any tips?

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    1. Hi there. Sorry to hear you had difficulties. As you can see by the pic I had to use quite a bit of blu tac (I used that brand.. I'm not sure if other brands work as well?)and really smooth it over the hole and quite a way around it to ensure it was stuck well. You have to do that before the bottle gets wet because once it's wet at all it doesn't seem to stick (I've done this experiment a couple of times). Modelling clay might work but I've not tested that at all. I guess it could be possible to use tape but you'd have to do it in a way that didn't crush the straw. All the best with it. I'll give it some more thought. Some water proof gap filler would work haha. :)

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  30. This is awesome! Pinned for a later time!

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  31. We did it! We did it! yay! thanx so much for the inspiration!

    http://pipidinko.blogspot.ca/2013/01/a-fountain-water-plastic-bottle-and.html#.UPtvW2fNmSo

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  32. Thanks so much for this great idea! Photos are wonderful, and the directions are easy to follow. Can't wait to do! Thanks for linking up at our STEM-themed Linky Party!
    http://www.stemmom.org/2013/01/stem-themed-linky-party-1.html

    Darci the STEM Mom

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  33. This is so so brilliant Debs :). I'll be featuring this as part of my Playing with Balloons roundup. xo Pauline

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  34. Love this! Can't wait to try it sometime with my own scientists! Pinning it now!

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