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#TryThisTuesday: Walking Water | STEM Newcastle STEM

Our Trial This series of experiments you should try at home on Tuesday is back with a colorful water-based experiment by Street Scientist Ailie.

You will need:

  • Red, yellow and blue food coloring
  • Kitchen roll
  • 6 clear cups, about the same size
  1. Add water to three of the cups so that they are 3/4 full. Then put 5 drops of red food coloring in a cup of water, blue in the second and yellow in the third.
  2. Place the cups in a circle with the empty cups between the cups of water (you can put some paper under the cups if you’re worried about spills).

3. Take 6 sheets of kitchen roll and fold them twice to form a thick strip as below. You may want to cut them a little shorter when using small cups. I cut off the bottom 1/5th.

4. Place one end of each strip of kitchen roll in one of the cups of water and the other end in an empty cup next to it. Can you predict what colors might form in the empty cups?

5. Wait an hour and then check in again to see if your experiment works! Mine looked like this:

After all, the empty cups will be as full as the cups feeding into them!

Color theory

Did you notice something that the 3 colors you started with had in common? You are the Primary colors. Mixing creates the 3 secondary colors – purple, green and orange.

This gives us a simplified version of a color wheel. The colors opposite each other on the bike and in our cup circle are “complementary”, which means that they contrast with each other, i.e. H. purple and yellow.

If we added more empty glasses between the colors we have here, we would create tertiary colors!

The science

The water moves the paper towel through a process called capillary
action
This is the ability of water to flow through narrow spaces
against gravity! Capillary
Action acts as molecules in liquid that like to stick together (cohesion) and also
like to stick to walls of a pipe (adhesion). Together these forces act
drive the liquid through the pipe or the narrow space. The closer the
Space, the faster the water moves and the higher it can rise.

Plants rely on capillary action to carry water from its roots to the top leaves where it is needed photosynthesis (the production of glucose for energy). Just as people have blood vessels to carry important substances in the blood around our bodies, plants have a tissue called xylem, which is made up of millions of tiny tubes. Water moves up through the tiny cubes by capillary action without wasting the plant’s energy.

One way to easily see the capillary action in the xylem is to cut off the bottom of the celery or cabbage stalk and add it to some water with food coloring. If you have enough time, you will see the colored water move to the top of the plant and color the leaves. When a plant is picked, it is no longer photosynthesized and produces energy. We have therefore shown that the water moves upwards through a passive process.

Kitchen roll is very absorbent, which means that it can absorb a lot of liquid – ideal for spilled kitchens. To do this, there are many small gaps between the fibers in the kitchen roll that fill with water. Together they form the narrow spaces in which the water moves the tissue up and into the adjacent empty cup. There the paint mixes with the water from the cup on the other side to form our secondary colors.

Can you find out how you can use this method to turn your kitchen roll into a colorful bouquet? Check back to test next Tuesday and we’ll show you!

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