With St. Patrick’s Day this month, we’ve spent a lot of time doing colorful experiments and building leprechaun traps. We had lots of cardboard and various making supplies to create our leprechaun traps. Several students found ways to create ladders for the leprechauns to try. No trap caught a leprechaun here, but we were able to follow his trail of green sparkles.

We have long had a prism here, for the students to explore how it breaks up white light into the spectrum. We started with an experiment in the capillary action of water through a paper towel. We started with white paper towels. In the example, we colored the visible spectrum perpendicular to the shorter edge of the paper towel. We created an alternative example which had red, yellow and blue spaced horizontally along the length of the paper towel with white space in between. The students each made their own designs. Once all the paper towels were ready, we placed both ends of the paper towel in separate cups of water. As the water traveled up the paper towel, it took the color with it, creating some great color effects.

Next, we created some colorful rainbow art. We glued salt onto paper. Once the glue had dried, we used watercolors to paint our pictures. It can be helpful to use extra water with the colors or use liquid water colors for a better absorption. It’s fun to watch as the salt soak up, or absorb, the color.

Finally we created a colorful density column. We tried to make one with various concentrations of sugar water, but as stacking those without them blending is very difficult, we opted instead for a column made of different liquids. We colored all the liquids beforehand, but still allowed the students to hypothesize which liquid comes next. We used liquid water color or gel food coloring to color our liquids, as some of the liquids will not mix with water color. We used gel with honey to color it purple. Blue water color mixed fine in corn syrup with a little shaking. We purchased some green colored dish soap so we wouldn’t have to color it. We colored water yellow. Vegetable oil required the gel color and lots of shaking to make it orange, but if you have some paprika to act as an emulsifier it should blend okay. Then we colored rubbing alcohol red. The liquids have enough difference in density that they will separate over time, so order doesn’t matter as much. This allows the students to pick the order they think without consequence to the results. After creating the column, we dropped in a few solid objects to see where they would wind up in the column.

For a different art experience using density, we also had some messy fun with hydro-dipping. We painted ceramic pots with a white acrylic base layer and allowed them to dry. Then we dripped nail polish onto the surface of containers of water. When we had a design we liked, we dipped the pots inside. Once they dried, we sprayed them with some acrylic sealant.