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Floriberta Estrada

SMT 416
Capillary Action
Escaping Water Experiment
Capillary action, also known as capillarity, is the tendency of a liquid to rise in
narrow tubes or to be drawn into small openings. Capillary action is a result of the
intermolecular attraction within the liquid and solid materials. Capillary action
occurs because water is sticky, thanks to the forces of cohesion (water molecules
like to stay close together) and adhesion (water molecules are attracted and stick
to other substances). Adhesion of water to the walls of a vessel will cause an
upward force on the liquid at the edges and result in a meniscus which turns
upward. The surface tension acts to hold the surface intact
1. Students will be able to observe the process of capillary action
2. Understand cohesion and adhesion
3. Understand how these results explain why/how other phenomena occur on
CA Science Standards: Grade 5
1. g. Students know properties of solid, liquid, and gaseous substances, such as
sugar, water (H2O), helium, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide.
3. c. Students know water vapor in the air moves from one place to another and
can form fog or clouds, which are tiny droplets of water or ice, and can fall to
Earth as rain, hail, sleet, or snow.
Anticipatory step: Review what students already know about water? What
happens when a glass of water is spilled and cleaned up-immediately the napkins
absob the water spilled? Why does this happen?
-2 full glass of water (add food coloring)
-1 empty glass of water
-Paper towels
-notebook to record observations
-food coloring
1. Twist a couple of pieces of paper towel together until it forms something that
looks a little like a piece of rope, this will be the 'wick' that will absorb and
transfer the water (a bit like the wick on a candle transferring the wax to the
2. Add food coloring to the 2 glasses of water, you can use two different colors
to observe a dramatic event.

3. Place the empty glass in between the two glasses of water.

4. Place one end of the paper towels into the glass filled with water and the
other into the empty glass.
5. Watch what happens (this experiment takes a little bit of patience).
Wrap-up: Ask the students to reocrd what they immediately see happening. What
is happening over time? How long will it take for the water to make its way to the
other glass?
Assessment: Where else can we see capillary action? Explain that without capillary
action, plants trees and even humans would not be able to survive. Due to the
transfusion of water from the roots to the rest of the plant, even the highes leaves
receive water. Capillary action is also responsible for transfering blood and oxigen
all over our body.
Terms to review: capillary action, cohesion, adhesion