Did you know you could create such beauty with milk, dish soap, and watercolors?
This is a color science activity called “erupting colors” from MaryAnn Kohl’s Science Arts book. I don’t own the book, but clearly need to. We repeated this activity over and over (and over). I thought it looked a bit like fireworks going off, so it seemed especially appropriate for Independence Day weekend.
I’m sure you will want to try this too. Right?
I would even if I didn’t have kids!
Fireworks Color Science Activity for Kids
- Whole milk
- A shallow pan
- Dish soap
- Liquid watercolors (or food coloring)
- Droppers if using the liquid watercolors
The first step is to pour a shallow layer of milk over the bottom of the pan. Then drop food coloring or liquid watercolors onto the surface of the milk. This is beautiful just by itself!
Finally, drop some dish soap in the center of a large drop of color or two.
Watch as the surface erupts and the color dances around! This part was so fast, yet so magical, that we had to repeat the experiment several times.
Here’s what MaryAnn says about the science aspect of it:
Milk contains water and fat. These two substances do not mix well. Even though the milk looks like one, it is really separate water and fat. Detergent is a substance that will mix with water or fat. When detergent is dropped into milk, one end of the molecule attaches to fat in the milk, and the other end attaches to the water. This causes a boiling effect.
Now I just came across another version of this color science experiment by chance yesterday at Our Best Bites, a cooking blog no less. They used a toothpick dipped in dish soap. We’ll have to try that technique next time!
Want more science? Here’s my current collection of fave artful kids science experiments…
This post contains affiliate links.