Traveling Water

Ever notice how water seems to “travel” quickly through a paper towel?  Here’s a great activity for your superheroes to watch water “travel”.  And the best part? You probably already have everything in your kitchen right now!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Paper towel, twisted to resemble a “rope” or folded like an accordian
  • 3 empty cups or glasses that are clear
  • Water
  • Some food coloring (we used blue and yellow)



Fill 2 of the glasses halfway with water and add a few drops of food coloring to each.  Place the empty glass in between the glasses with the food coloring.  At this point, I ask my superheroes to guess what they think will happen when we add the paper towels to the glasses.  The superheroes drew their “before” observations.


Next, we added the paper towels to each glass of colored water and had them both meet in the empty glass.

IMG_1437 IMG_1438

We checked on the jars periodically over the next hour and this is what we saw after 2hours.IMG_1442 IMG_1441

Notice that all the glasses have the same amount of water in them.  As the water “traveled” to the empty jar, the colors mixed to form green and that was pretty cool for my superheroes to watch.  We repeated the experiment with red and blue and red and yellow to form new secondary colors.

The Science behind the Activity:

This is an example of ‘capillary action’, where the water “travels” through the holes in the paper towel.  The water molecules pull each other through the force of adhesion through the paper towel.  The same process occurs in plants to pull water from the roots up to the rest of the plant.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the experiment:

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