Water's Great Escape

In this experiment water moves by capillary action "up" a paper towel from a cup to a bowl. The procedure is taken from 730 Easy Science Experiments with Everyday Materials by E. Richard Churchill, Louis V. Loeschnig, and Muriel Mandell.

Question 

Which kind of paper towel could move the most water from the cup to the bowl?

Hypothesis

The perforated will move the most water.

Experiment

See Procedure

Conclusion

Our hypothesis was not correct because the multi-fold moved the most water.

Preparation: 

In preparation for this science experiment, students practiced the procedure once prior to performing the experiment to make sure that it "worked."

Materials: 

  • Three  types of paper towel:
    • perforated
    • continuous roll
    • multi-fold
  • Water
  • Three bowls
  • Three cups
  • Adapted beakers -100 mL
  • Non-adapted beakers

Procedure: 

  1. Gather information.
  2. Cut continuous roll and perforated paper towels to 24 cm by 24 cm.
  3. Twist each paper towel fairly tight to form a wick.
  4. Bend each wick in the middle.
  5. Fill three glasses full of water.
  6. Place one of each wick in a separate glass.
  7. Put the other (dry) end of the wick into the bowl. 
  8. Make sure the other side of the paper towel  reaches the bowl.
  9. Check in one day.
  10. Measure the water using a beaker.
  11. Record your measurements.

Variations: 

Other types of paper towel could be used for this experiment.

NGSS Standards: 

Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (HS-ESS2-5)

 

Collage of Water's Great Escape