Dancing Raisins Experiment
Today is our second science day of our virtual summer camp. If you missed last week, I recommend you go back and read the introduction to last week’s science session as it includes some general tips for all our science sessions.
This week, we are going to be investigating some dancing raisins! This is a super easy science experiment to do at home, but it’s super fun too and my 5 year old really got a kick out of it. All you will need for this is a glass, some still water and some sparkling water, and a handful of raisins. The experiment works best if you have a fresh bottle of sparkling water that hasn’t been opened yet, and is full of fresh bubbles.
If you want to record your experiment – including your predictions, observations and findings – you can also download a copy of my free ‘Science Experiment Report’ sheet and either print it off or, if you don’t have a printer, use it as a template to create your own. Depending on age, kids can either write and/ or draw their observations.
I’ve recorded a video of the experiment from start to finish, which you will find further down the page. However, I recommend you try the experiment out yourselves first before watching the video, and then you can compare your results with ours. There’s not much you can do wrong with this one.
Dancing Raisins Experiment
Step 1: Pour some still water in to a glass.
Question: What do you think will happen if you add some raisins in to the water? Record your predictions.
Step 2: Add a small handful of raisins in to the glass. Small or medium raisins work best, and make sure they are not stuck together. Record your observations.
Question: What do you think will happen if you use sparkling water instead? Record your predictions.
Step 3: Now pour some sparkling water in to a glass, and add some raisins. Record your observations. Be patient, it may take a minute or two for something to start happening.
Here’s a short video from when we did this experiment at home…
Questions: Why do you think the raisins react differently in the still water and the sparkling water? What makes the raisins ‘dance’? Do they keep dancing or do they slow down or stop after a while? Why do you think that is? What happens if you try this experiment with something other than raisins, e.g. uncooked pasta, corn kernels or lentils.
When we first put the raisins in to the still water, they sink to the bottom because they are more dense than the water. But the carbonated sparkling water contains dissolved carbon dioxide gas. Initially the raisins also sink, because they are more dense than the water. But as the carbonated water releases bubbles of carbon dioxide, they attach themselves to the rough surface of the raisins and pull the raisins up to the top of the glass. A bit like mini floatation devices. Once the bubbles reach the top of the glass, the carbon dioxide gets released in to the air and the raisins sink back down. This circle of attaching and releasing will continue for a while, but as more and more carbon dioxide gets released from the water, the ‘dancing’ raisins will start to slow down, until eventually the water goes flat and the raisins stop moving altogether. That’s why this experiment works best with fresh sparkling water, that hasn’t released any of its carbon dioxide yet.
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