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starScience Activities

Color Bubbles

Oil and water do not mix, as they have very different properties from one another. This changes how they interact with other materials, such as food coloring. This activity will demonstrate how oil and water are different while creating a beautiful array of color bubbles.

Activity Instructions

Set out a cup of water and a cup of cooking oil, each about two thirds of the way full. Explain to your kids that oil and water are very different and, as a result, react differently to a variety of other liquids. Drop a couple of drops of food coloring into the water cup. Explain that the food coloring mixes with the water, spreading out into the cup.

Next, drop a couple of drops of food coloring into the oil. Instead of mixing, the food coloring will create bubbles. This is because oil and water do not mix, and food coloring is made up, primarily, of water.

Finally, fill a third cup with water and top it off with oil, which sits in a layer on top of the water. Drop food coloring into the cup. After showing your kids how it sits in the oil, push on it with the tip of the pencil. After breaking the layer of oil surrounding it, the food coloring will then mix with the water.

Have your junior scientist use this science experiment worksheet to keep track of their experiement.

Parents: If you're curious as to the technical reason why oil and water do not mix, the best explanation is here

  • Three glasses or clear plastic cups
  • Pencil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Cooking oil


This activity will show your children how different liquids behave. Discussion surrounding the different behavior of oil and water will help develop your kids’ ability to analyze data and observe how materials interact.