ocean

Wednesday’s Science Time program at the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library studied density by using only a few common materials to create an ocean in a bottle.

Library clerk Heather Heilman brings the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library’s virtual Science Time program to viewers every Wednesday afternoon.

With it, she introduces children to science concepts through easy-to-replicate experiments and projects that reinforce those ideas and that typically follow the chosen theme of the week.

This Wednesday’s program was no different, with Heilman explaining, “Our summer reading club theme is ‘Cowabunga! Read.’ Everything’s set on the beach or in the ocean ... so I am going to follow along with that with my science,” before introducing the day’s project: An ocean bottle.

As always, the materials needed were either common household items or could easily and inexpensively be purchased: an empty, clear plastic bottle (Heilman used a water bottle); corn syrup; vegetable oil; blue food coloring (Heilman recommended using the liquid, not the gel); and some sort of stirring implement.

Heilman began by filling the empty bottle about one-quarter of the way with the corn syrup. She then added a few drops of the blue food coloring and stirred these together. She next poured in the vegetable oil until the contents reached about the halfway point of the bottle.

Once the “ingredients” were in the bottle, she replaced the lid.

“Make sure you put the lid on super-tight so that you don’t make a mess,” she advised.

Heilman drew viewers’ attention to the layers that had formed in the bottle, explaining that the corn syrup remained at the bottom because it is denser; the vegetable oil, with less density, remained at the top.

She then slowly turned the bottle downward “so that the capped end is down at a light angle.”

Because the two liquids don’t mix well (again, due to their densities), the dyed corn syrup remained more or less separate from the oil. Slowly tilting the bottle back and forth therefore resembled ocean waves.

“It kind of is really soothing to watch,” she observed.

Heilman also suggested using a larger bottle, and possibly adding items such as tiny seashells to “make it a little bit more realistic.”

Heilman said that the project was a, “Good kickoff to the summer, great kickoff for our summer reading club,” and let viewers know that Science Time will continue virtually as usual, with some in-person science events over the summer, as well (registration opened in-person on Wednesday, June 9).

Watch the video on the library’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/harkerheightspubliclibrary/videos/178226637564738

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