Diffusion Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Alexandra Owens

Alexandra has taught middle school science and has a master's degree in Math and Science Education.

In this lesson, learn how diffusion is responsible for smells traveling, balloons deflating even keeping you alive with the movement of particles. You'll explore examples of diffusion in action and in everyday life all around you.

What Is Diffusion?

Have you ever been sitting in your bedroom and suddenly smelled food being cooked downstairs? The smell may have been so strong that it seemed like the meal was cooking right next to you! This is caused by diffusion, which is the process of tiny particles spreading out evenly in a space. So, if there are more particles in the kitchen, they'll spread out to other parts of the house where there are fewer particles to even everything out.

Diffusion is the movement of particles until they are evenly spread out.~

Imagine your classroom at school. Do you and your classmates all sit together clumped in one corner in the room? Probably not! The desks and chairs are evenly spaced in the classroom so that no one is too close together. Diffusion acts the same way. Particles do not like staying clumped up together in one place. They want to spread out!

Diffusion in Action

Diffusion can occur with all states of matter, but it mostly happens to liquids and gasses. That's because in these states of matter the particles have enough space between them to move. In solids, particles are tightly packed and vibrate.

A gas may diffuse through a solid, though. Have you ever noticed that a helium balloon slowly loses its helium over time and it starts to sink back to the ground after your birthday party? That is because the helium gas is slowly diffusing out of the balloon to where it has more room to move!

The diffusion of liquids can be seen in the kitchen anytime you mix a drink or add food coloring to something. The coloring slowly spreads out in the liquid until it is evenly spaced. You won't see food coloring stay in the shape of the droplet after adding it to water!

Food coloring is an example of diffusion in liquids. The color spreads out until it is even.
food coloring

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