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5.

54-1 SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS ON FILE Revised Edition

Cohesion
Constance P. Tiliakos

Topic
Attractive forces among molecules

Time
45 minutes to 1 hour

Safety
! Please click on the safety icon to view the safety precautions. Rubbing
alcohol is flammable and poisonous. Do not drink any of the liquids used in this
experiment. Keep alcohol away from flames. Dispose of liquids properly by
flushing them down the toilet or sink.

Materials
two eyedroppers water
50-mL beaker rubbing alcohol
three paper cups metric ruler
wax paper blue and red food coloring

Procedure
PREPARATION
Prepare two solutions as follows: Measure out 50 mL each of water and alcohol, and
place each liquid in a separate paper cup. Add 3 drops of blue food coloring to the
water. Add 3 drops of red food coloring to the alcohol.
PART A
1. Fill the remaining paper cup half full of water.
2. Float two toothpicks on the water near the center of the cup. Place the tooth-
picks so that they float parallel, approximately 1 cm apart.
3. Add 1 drop of the blue water solution between the toothpicks, as shown in figure 1.
Observe what happens.
4. Measure the distance between the toothpicks after adding the drop of water.
5. Repeat steps 2 to 4, this time using a drop of the red alcohol solution in step 4.
Observe what happens, and measure the distance between the toothpicks after
adding the drop of alcohol.

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SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS ON FILE Revised Edition 5.54-2

Figure 1

eyedropper

paper cup

drop of blue water


toothpick

water

PART B
1. Spread a piece of wax paper 15 cm long.
2. Place 5 drops of the blue water on the wax paper (see figure 2). Measure the
base of each drop with your ruler as shown, and record your findings on the
data table. Average the results.
3. Place 5 drops of the red alcohol on the wax paper. Measure each drop, and
record your findings on the data table. Average the results.
Figure 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

wax paper drop of blue liquid metric ruler

D ATA T A B L E
Diameter of base

Drop no. Water Alcohol

Average

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5.54-3 SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS ON FILE Revised Edition

PART C
1. Spread a 30-cm piece of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Flatten as much as
possible.
2. Add blue food coloring to the water in the cup until the water becomes a dark
blue.
3. Pour the water onto the foil. Spread it so that you are left with as large and thin
an area of water as possible.
4. Fill an eyedropper with uncolored alcohol. Place 1 drop of the alcohol in the
center of the pool of water. Observe what happens.
5. What happens when you place the drop of water between the toothpicks?
6. What happens when you place the drop of alcohol between the toothpicks?
7. Why do you think the toothpicks react the way they do in each case?
8. How does the average size of the base of a drop of water compare with that of a
drop of alcohol? Why?
9. What did you observe when you placed the drop of alcohol in the center of the
pool of water in Part C? Why do you think this happened?

Whats Going On
When you place a drop of water between the toothpicks, there is a slight movement.
When a drop of alcohol is placed between the toothpicks, they move apart very
rapidly. The toothpicks move only slightly when the colored water is placed in be-
tween them because water does not disturb the molecular attraction among the
molecules of the liquid in between the toothpicks. There is a slight movement be-
cause the new water molecules displace others in the area where they are dropped.
When the alcohol drop is introduced, the toothpicks move apart because the alcohol
breaks the attraction among the water molecules between the toothpicks. The water
molecules on the other side of the toothpicks are still exerting their original force on
each other, pulling the toothpicks apart.
The drops of alcohol are larger than the drops of water. The cohesive forces act-
ing among molecules of water is stronger than those among molecules of alcohol.
The surface tension is greater in water than in alcohol. If you look at the drops at eye
level you will notice that the water drops stand higher than those of the alcohol be-
cause the surface tension of the water keeps the drops from spreading out as much
as the alcohol. The volume of the water drops is actually greater for the same reason.
(See experiment 21, Natures Tug of War, for more information on this subject.)
When the drop of alcohol is placed in the center of the pool of water, the water
pulls away from the alcohol drop. As the water moves away, the alcohol spreads out
until it is very thin and the water forms a wall surrounding the alcohol. This hap-
pens because the water molecules are attracted to each other, while the attraction of
the alcohol to the water is actually stronger than its own cohesive force. If you keep
watching, you will eventually notice that the alcohol mixes completely with the water.

Connections
Cohesion is the attractive force among molecules of a substance that holds the sub-
stance together. This force must be overcome for two or more substances to be com-
bined. In this experiment you tested the cohesive force of two different liquids.

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Safety Precautions
READ AND COPY BEFORE STARTING ANY EXPERIMENT

Experimental science can be dangerous. Events can happen very quickly while you are performing
an experiment. Things can spill, break, even catch fire. Basic safety procedures help prevent serious
accidents. Be sure to follow additional safety precautions and adult supervision requirements for
each experiment. If you are working in a lab or in the field, do not work alone.

This book assumes that you will read the safety precautions that follow, as well as those at the start
of each experiment you perform, and that you will remember them. These precautions will not always
be repeated in the instructions for the procedures. It is up to you to use good judgment and pay at-
tention when performing potentially dangerous procedures. Just because the book does not always
say be careful with hot liquids or dont cut yourself with the knife does not mean that you should
be careless when simmering water or stripping an electrical wire. It does mean that when you see a
special note to be careful, it is extremely important that you pay attention to it. If you ever have a
question about whether a procedure or material is dangerous, stop to find out for sure that it is safe
before continuing the experiment. To avoid accidents, always pay close attention to your work, take
your time, and practice the general safety procedures listed below.

PREPARE
Clear all surfaces before beginning work.
Read through the whole experiment before you start.
Identify hazardous procedures and anticipate dangers.

PROTECT YOURSELF
Follow all directions step by step; do only one procedure at a time.
Locate exits, fire blanket and extinguisher, master gas and electricity shut-offs, eyewash, and
first-aid kit.
Make sure that there is adequate ventilation.
Do not horseplay.
Wear an apron and goggles.
Do not wear contact lenses, open shoes, and loose clothing; do not wear your hair loose.
Keep floor and work space neat, clean, and dry.
Clean up spills immediately.
Never eat, drink, or smoke in the laboratory or near the work space.
Do not taste any substances tested unless expressly permitted to do so by a science teacher in
charge.

USE EQUIPMENT WITH CARE


Set up apparatus far from the edge of the desk.
Use knives and other sharp or pointed instruments with caution; always cut away from yourself
and others.
Pull plugs, not cords, when inserting and removing electrical plugs.
Dont use your mouth to pipette; use a suction bulb.
Clean glassware before and after use.
Check glassware for scratches, cracks, and sharp edges.
Clean up broken glassware immediately.
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vi Safety SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS ON FILE REVISED EDITION

Do not use reflected sunlight to illuminate your microscope.


Do not touch metal conductors.
Use only low-voltage and low-current materials.
Be careful when using stepstools, chairs, and ladders.

USING CHEMICALS
Never taste or inhale chemicals.
Label all bottles and apparatus containing chemicals.
Read all labels carefully.
Avoid chemical contact with skin and eyes (wear goggles, apron, and gloves).
Do not touch chemical solutions.
Wash hands before and after using solutions.
Wipe up spills thoroughly.

HEATING INSTRUCTIONS
Use goggles, apron, and gloves when boiling liquids.
Keep your face away from test tubes and beakers.
Never leave heating apparatus unattended.
Use safety tongs and heat-resistant mittens.
Turn off hot plates, bunsen burners, and gas when you are done.
Keep flammable substances away from heat.
Have a fire extinguisher on hand.

WORKING WITH MICROORGANISMS


Assume that all microorganisms are infectious; handle them with care.
Sterilize all equipment being used to handle microorganisms.

GOING ON FIELD TRIPS


Do not go on a field trip by yourself.
Tell a responsible adult where you are going, and maintain that route.
Know the area and its potential hazards, such as poisonous plants, deep water, and rapids.
Dress for terrain and weather conditions (prepare for exposure to sun as well as to cold).
Bring along a first-aid kit.
Do not drink water or eat plants found in the wild.
Use the buddy system; do not experiment outdoors alone.

FINISHING UP
Thoroughly clean your work area and glassware.
Be careful not to return chemicals or contaminated reagents to the wrong containers.
Dont dispose of materials in the sink unless instructed to do so.
Wash your hands thoroughly.
Clean up all residue, and containerize it for proper disposal.
Dispose of all chemicals according to local, state, and federal laws.

BE SAFETY-CONSCIOUS AT ALL TIMES

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