Sep 23, 2015

WonderWorks: Does it absorb?

Let's learn about things that absorb and things that repel liquid!

Today's Topic:Absorption
fabric scraps (various kinds)
containers to hold water 
water droppers (we also used baby-ibuprofen-type syringes)
paper towels
coffee filters
waxed paper
regular paper
plastic wrap
styrofoam plates
paper plates
measuring cups and/or spoons

 cover art Maisy takes a bath / Cousins, Lucy

This book was a bit of a stretch, but I've always loved the page where Maisy is standing at her front door in her towel, dripping water and it's not easy to search for picture books that specifically include towels!

For one of the classes, I also showed this duck video and talked a little bit about how duck feathers don't get wet but the water just slides right off and why (the ducks have a special oil gland that they use to spread oil over their feathers to waterproof them).

The inspiration for this class (or "what I thought kids might do"):

Little Bins for Little Hands: Water Absorbtion

 What Kids Actually Did: 
drop water onto various materials and observe absorbtion

 (I found a real feather (as opposed to the dyed "craft feather" pictured above) lying on the ground outside and let parents decide if they were okay with letting their kids touch it or not. The difference in how the two feathers reacted to a drop of water was significant and fascinating!)
 The sponges were a HUGE hit.  We could have done a whole class just on sponges (and we may, someday in the future...)

 (pouring water from a measuring cup onto a sponge)
 Squeezing a full sponge into a measuring cup to see how much water it holds:

 I believe this young scientist was injecting water into their sponge with the syringe, not extracting water.
observing how water drips through a coffee filter
 poking holes in a wet paper plate with a medicine syringe
I created a chart for kids to keep track of their predictions about whether a material would absorb water or not (attached at the bottom of this post).  The chart was pretty good at absorbing water too.
 Discovering that a pencil will write on a styrofoam plate even if the plate is full of water.
 And just tons and tons of water pouring exploration.  Always a big hit!
 Also, the droppers were once again a fascination--figuring out the mechanics of how to use them to pick up water was enough to keep some of the kids busy the whole time transferring water from one container to another.
 Stacking measuring cups was also fun.

Adult Challenge of the week:  Ask "Why do you think....?" questions to start a conversation with your child about their observations about water absorption.

Hindsight Tip:  If you have more than one class session in a day, make sure you have a stash of fabric for each class--they can take a long time to dry and it would be quite easy to predict which materials will absorb water if you can touch them and feel that they're already wet!

 Variations to try: 
--Cotton balls would also be another absorbent material to test.
--You could try soaking some wooden sticks in oil before class and letting them dry and then testing them to see if the oiled ones were more water repellent than non-oiled ones.

The free printable "Does it absorb water?" PDF chart can be downloaded here.

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