Vocabulary Word of the Week: Viscosity

Have you ever noticed that some liquids are harder to pour than others? That’s because of viscosity, our vocab word of the week. Viscosity is a measure of how easily a liquid flows. It has to do with how thick or thin the liquid is. Today, you can see which liquids have a higher viscosity and which ones have a low viscosity!
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Materials:

  1. A ramp

  2. Stopwatch

  3. Liquids to test (for example: water, corn syrup, pasta sauce, maple syrup, honey, vegetable oil)

  4. Liquid measuring cup

  5. Marker

  6. Paper and pencil to record results

You can do this experiment with a friend! One person starts the stopwatch while the other person pours the liquid.

Method:

  1. Draw one line at the top of the ramp and one at the bottom. These lines will be the start and finish lines for your liquids.

  2. Choose a few different types of liquids (at least three should be tested) and measure 50 mL (or a 1/4 cup) of each. If you’re using a long ramp, use more liquid!

  3. Guess which liquid will take the shortest time to cross the finish line. Guess which one will take the longest time. Write down your guesses—this is your hypothesis!

  4. Test each liquid one at a time. Pour the liquid down the ramp. When it touches the starting line, start the stopwatch.

  5. Watch the liquid carefully and stop the stopwatch when the liquid crosses the finish line.

  6. Record the type of liquid tested and the amount of time it took.

  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for each of the liquids being tested.

  8. Now, come to a conclusion. Which liquid took the longest time to make it to the finish line? Which took the shortest time? The liquids that took the longest time have a high viscosity and the liquids that took less time have a low viscosity.

  9. Look back at your hypothesis. Do your results agree or disagree with what you thought in the beginning? The important part isn’t whether your hypothesis was right. The important part is that you carefully tested the hypothesis to learn about viscosity!

By Natalie Duerr & Maariyah Mustafa

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