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Surface Tension of Water

Find out more about water, how bubbles are formed, experiments,  and the answers to trivia questions sent with the kids science project on surface tension of water.

Trivia Questions

1. What creature uses the surface tension of water to stalk its prey?

2. How much does soap decrease the surface tension of water?

 Find the answers to these kids science questions.


Kids Science Library

Amazing Polymers  
Static Electricity  

Or check the Free Activity Library for kids crafts and children's activities.

Science Experiments for Kids Science doesn't have to be complicated, expensive or use specialized laboratory equipment. There are great science projects that can be performed using common household items.

Whether you are a parent or a student trying to find an idea for a science project, a teacher looking for ideas for the classroom, or a science enthusiast who enjoys the delight of experimentation, you'll find what you're looking for in this book.

101 Easy Science Projects




Water Magnifiers

First, find a piece of clear plastic that is big enough to hold easily.  It could be from a plastic bag or even from some old packaging.

Second, put a large water drop in the center of the plastic.  The water drop will be the lens for the magnifier.  Hold it about an inch (or 2 cm) over a piece of newspaper.  The text you see through the water drop should look larger than the text surrounding it.

The surface tension of water causes the molecules to create a rounded surface on the water drop. The rounded shape of the drop bends the light (with the image) outwards. As it spreads out, the image that you see gets larger.  If the water drop is not exactly round, the image will be distorted. It will also distort when the water wiggles. As magnification increases, any distortions are also magnified. 

How do Bubbles form? 

Surface tension of water makes it impossible to stretch out to create a thin film or bubble. There is a strong attraction between water molecules, preventing them from being stretched thinly enough to produce a bubble.  Fortunately, soap reduces the surface tension and allows bubbles to form.

A soap film always pulls in as tightly as it can, just like a stretched balloon. A soap film makes the smallest possible surface area for the volume it contains. Most bubbles are spheres because it is the shape that has the smallest surface area compared to its volume. 

If you want to experiment with creating bubbles, you can make your own bubble mix and bubble wands.


Websites with information on the Surface Tension of Water

Experiments with surface tension

Soap and surface tension


Experiment with a soap boat 


  • Cut out the styrofoam into a boat shape.
  • Fill a large bowl or clean sink with water and place the boat on the water. 
  • Put one drop of dish detergent one the water, just behind the V at the back of the boat.

What Should Happen
When the detergent touches the water, the boat will be propelled forward. You may need to empty and refill the bowl to repeat the experiment a second time.

When you place soap solution in contact with water, soap molecules try to spread over the surface of the water, at first, since they are confined in the cavity of the boat with only one way out they jet from the rear end of the boat creating a reaction force strong enough to drive the boat across the water. As soon as all the water surface is covered with a monolayer of soap molecules, the motion stops. 



Cover for Everything Kids Science Experiments Book

The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You

Science has never been so easy - all you need to do is gather a few household items and you can recreate dozens of mind-blowing, kid-tested science experiments.

Order Science Experiments Now

  Cover for How Science Works Book

How Science Works

Interesting experiments and good descriptions covering matter; energy, force, and motion; light and sound; air and water; electricity and magnetism; and electronics and computers

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Spa Science

Spa Science

Take science into the bathtub. It's perfect for science fairs, birthday parties and family fun. It will help both girls and boys to think like a scientist in the tub!


Trivia Answers

1. What uses the surface tension of water to stock its prey?

Pond Skaters or  Water striders are some of the names used for insects that live on the surface of the water. 


2.  . How much does soap decrease the surface tension of water?

Soap decreases the surface tension of water by about 1/3.  


 Note to Parents:

Creative Kids at Home has checked every weblink on this page.  We believe these links provide interesting information that is appropriate for kids.  However, the internet is a constantly changing place.  You are responsible for supervising your own children.  If you ever find a link that you feel is inappropriate, please let us know. 


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