Liquid Layers

Liquid Layers


- A tall glass
- Water
- Cooking oil
- Golden syrup (the kind that comes in a tin – golden syrup from a squeezable bottle won’t be thick enough!)
- A selection of small objects to test – e.g grapes, paper clips, erasers etc… anything small that you don’t mind getting a bit mucky!


1. Fill the glass about one third with water.
2. Add equal amounts of golden syrup and cooking oil so your glass is filled almost to the top.
3. Give the whole thing a really good stir so it looks like one big mess!
4. Leave the mixture to settle – this will take a few minutes. The golden syrup will settle on the bottom, with the water in the middle and the oil floating on the top!
5. Try dropping in your different objects to see what layer they settle on – try finding different objects so that you have something floating on each layer!

The Extreme Science behind this:

The reason that these liquids separate out all comes down to density.An easy way to think about density is how much ‘stuff’, or matter, is packed into an amount of space.The density of a liquid depends on the size of its molecules and the amount of space between them.
The golden syrup has big molecules that are tightly packed together.Water has smaller molecules packed tightly together.Oil has large molecules but the molecules are spaced far apart – so oil is the least dense liquid.This is why the liquids separate out into layers like they did in this experiment.
When you drop your different objects in, they float in the places where the liquids meet.Where they end up depends on the density of the objects – each object will float on the surface of the liquid that has a higher density than itself.

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