Lava Lamp: Water & Oil Experimentation

Water and oil experimentation

One week in class we did a lot of water experimentations. To enhance our exploration we added oil to our exercises. For one specific experiment we simulated a lava lamp like project by putting water and oil into a bottle. Our students watched the oil separate from the water. We then gave them ice cubes. The ice cubes fell slowly through the oil and fast through the water. Then we mixed red and blue food coloring and dropped it in the bottle. The children watched the dye drop through the oil into the water and spread. Then we added antacid tablets and the lava lamp like reaction occurred.


We created the whole lava lamp together as a class. Through observation we feel that at this age our students have strong cognitive skills to be able to set up projects and explore them. Being so we put each item in front of them. When we showed them the cooking oil a lot of them recognized it from home. “I have it at home!” “I have it at home too!” We asked the children where we put the oil and one student said “In a boil plate!” They are recognizing and making connections with the materials we use in class to outside contexts. Some kids even thought the oil was soap. As we dropped the food coloring in we counted “1, 2, 3!” As we dropped the antacid tablets the kids stared in awe. The children expressed their genuine excitement, “Woah!” “It makes bubbles” “It’s going to leak out!” We did the project on the light table in order to simulate the lava lamp vibe. The students really enjoyed this experiment because they were actively engaged with each step of the process by creating and leading the exploration based on their evolving discoveries.

“Curiosity is a child’s passion to explore, learn and delight in each new discovery.”

-Laurie Monopoli

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