Curious Kids Science

Skittles density tower

Skittles density tower

If your kids are like mine then any experiment that involves lollies is guaranteed to hold their attention and to be on the list of requests for activities to repeat.

The great thing about that, is that it means that you don’t need to really worry about whether they understand what’s happening the first time around. You know for absolute certain that you’ll get another go at explaining things, all you need to do is keep a bucket of Skittles well hidden and wait for the next request to do the experiment.

I love experiments that use colour too. I find that they hold the attention of younger kids for a lot longer than other experiments, even when I have to do certain parts of the experiment, like in this one. My 3-year-old actually grabbed a bag of pom poms that we have on our craft trolley and decided to match the pom poms to the different coloured water bowls while I was creating the layers this time!

A tower of water made by varying the density

So, what is a Skittles density tower? It is basically a jar or tube that you use to create different coloured layers of water in. Sound intriguing? Let’s get started.

You’ll need:

  • A packet of Skittles
  • 5 small bowls
  • A small jar or tube. I have done this in a baby food jar and it worked well. Don’t go bigger than that
  • A measuring spoon or 10ml syringe
  • An eye dropper, pipette or syringe
  • Water

Method

  1. Put equal amounts of water in each bowl. Around 20ml is a good amount.
  2. Select 11 Skittles of one colour, 8 of the next colour, 5 of the next, 3 and then 1 in the final bowl.
  3. Leave the skittles until they turn almost white.
  4. Starting with the water that had 11 Skittles, pour or spoon the water into the jar or tube. If you have a younger child who will have trouble operating a syringe with precision then let them do this step as you will need to do the rest.
  5. Moving to the next bowl, use the eye dropper/syringe/pipette to take some water and slowly drip it into the jar. Run the water down the side of the container and do it in a slow motion. It should begin to layer on top of the previous colour. Continue until you have used all of the water.
  6. Repeat the above step from the highest number of Skittles to the lowest.

The science

By placing the Skittles in the water and allowing the coating to dissolve in the water, you have made the water more dense than it was when it was just plain water.

When you increase the density of the water, you essentially increase the overall weight of the water per ml.

The more Skittles that you placed in the water, the more dense the water will become.

By layering the water from the most to the least dense, you have been able to create a rainbow effect in the jar. You can explain that the water is less heavy (dense) the higher up it is in the jar.

***Tip*** Try to use colours that are least like each other on top of each other to make the tower look more appealing.

If you and your kids love rainbow experiments check out our walking rainbow and our coloured flower experiments!

If you would like to do even more experiments with your kids but don't have time to keep grabbing supplies, you'll love our Chemistry-in-Action kit. It's made for busy parents who still want to have quality time with their kids.

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