Ocean in a Bottle


    Ollie is a handyman,
    The greatest one around.
    He makes toys from odds and ends
    And sells them by the pound.
    While walking by the ocean,
    And looking at the waves,
    Ollie had a great idea -
    A toy that would get raves!

    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    Kids, here's how you can make Ollie's new toy for yourself. Fill a large clear plastic soda bottle halfway with water. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and mix. Add a light-colored cooking oil until the bottle is filled to the very top. Put the cap on tightly. Turn the bottle sideways and tilt it up and down. What happens? How does your ocean-in-a-bottle work? Oil and water do not mix because the molecules in water are very attracted to each other, but are not attracted to those in oil at all. Because water is more dense than oil, when the bottle is rocked, the water runs to the bottom, pushing the oil out of its way and making waves. Adding color to the water makes it easier to tell the difference between the two liquids.


    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    January 1998


    Taken From: Apples, Bubbles, and Crystals: Your Science ABCs, by A. Bennett & J. Kessler, 1996, McGraw Hill, NY.