Traveling Water Experiment

Traveling WaterTry this traveling water experiment by using the free printable with directions. My father used to set up this experiment for us to make predictions and learn that water can travel with capillary action.

traveling-water-science-experiment before and after

This experiment is easy to set up. Which way will the water travel, through the hose or the paper towel?  In 24 to 48 hours the answer is revealed.

Traveling water experiment supplies required include:

4 jars (either all the same, or 2 bigger and 2 smaller)

2 paper towels not separated

1 piece of airline/plastic hose about 12 inches long

2 colors of food coloring

What to do:

Fill two jars each two thirds full of water.  

Leave two jars empty. 

Put two different colors of food coloring in the jars with water. This is to help “prove” the water travels by itself.

Place the plastic tube and the paper towels so they touch the bottom of each jar (jar with water to dry jar in each case).

Have the children predict.  Which way or ways do they think the water will travel?

 Leave the jars undisturbed as in on the top of a shelf for two days. 
science experiment traveling water set up

Show the children the finished experiment and let them make observations. Here you can see which way the water traveled.


When they are ready, ask the children why water could travel one way and not the other?

Spoiler:  The water will travel over the paper towel with “capillary action” and not through the hose. 

Also, all of the water will not travel to the other jar, only some of it.

Further experiment:  Try yarn, string, cloth, and different materials.  Which work the best?

As a child, I used to guess the hose.  I liked the hose better than the cloth, for one thing.  For another, I had seen a hose being used as a siphon.  If there is not a starting siphon, of course, the water cannot go through the hose.

Thank you for reading, Carolyn