Surface Tension Activities

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

If your students are struggling with some of the more complex properties of water, using a few of the activities described here will help break the tension. This lesson contains several activity ideas for teaching about surface tension.

Surface Tension: A Result of Cohesion

Water is a very curious material. The water molecule has many properties that make it unique and important to life on Earth. Adhesion and cohesion, two of water's properties, make water behave in ways we've become familiar with. In adhesion, water molecules tend to stick to other materials. This is why a paper towel soaks up water from your counter. In cohesion, water molecules stick to one another. This is why water tends to form droplets on a surface. In the activities that follow, students will explore the property of cohesion in great detail as they take a close look at one of its results: Surface tension. Each activity starts with a list of required materials for use in planning.

Water Droplets on a Penny Activity

  • Pennies (one for each student)
  • Water droppers
  • Paper towels

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