We’ve been doing a lot of easy science experiments at home, trying to keep the creative mind of an inquisitive 4-year-old active and curious. This Floating Letters Experiment is simple enough for young children and still fun for older kids. What’s great for parents is that it shouldn’t require an extra trip to the store due to the magic of Amazon, and it keeps kids busy for a while doing their best to guess the results.
This Floating Letters Experiment is fun for all ages. I even had fun myself, drawing words, shapes, and designs— wondering which would float and which would not.
For this Floating Letters Experiment, you can use as many different color dry-erase markers as want. I only had the standard: black, red, blue, and green which worked just fine. If you have other colors, it adds to the curiosity of which colors will float and which will not. In our experiment, not all did.
Related: Foaming Orange Volcano
The Science Behind It
In the simplest terms, dry-erase markers contain a silicone polymer that makes them slippery and prevents the ink from sticking to non-porous surfaces. A permanent marker, on the other hand, contains an acrylic polymer that allows the ink to stick to a surface. When you add water to the letters drawn on a glass plate or in a bowl, the water slips underneath the letters and because the ink is lighter than the water- it floats!
When approaching this experiment with my 4-year-old, we first wrote our words and letters on a plate. We used both dry-erase and Crayola washable markers. We made guesses about what would happen and if any letters would float. Next, slowly pour water at the edge of the plate and wait to see which letters will float. You can hypothesize beforehand which letters or colors will float and then wait for the result.
Pouring the water on the edge of the plate works best to get the letters to float, however, you can try pouring the water from different angles as a part of the experiment. You can also fill a glass bowl and write letters on the back of a metal spoon. We used a glass plate and a glass bowl. The bowl worked best because it could catch the water overflow, but the downside was there was less room to write our letters. A larger plate with a rim may work best. We found that trying different items in our kitchen was all a part of the fun and experimenting!
- Use a decent amount of pressure when writing your letters and words, the more ink that comes out the better chance of floating.
- Make sure all the edges are sticking together when you write.
- Dry eraser markers (we used Expo brand)
- A large white plate or bowl with ridge
- Crayola washable markers
- Using dry-erase markers, write letters, words, shapes, or designs on the plate. We wrote the alphabet, words like mom, dad, dog, car, and cat.
- Pour water on the edge of the plate or bowl for best results and wait for the letter to slowly lift off the plate.
Related: Float or Sink Game for Toddlers
Did you try this Floating Letters Experiment? What results did you have? Share in the comments below, and if you liked this experiment please pin and share!
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Hi! I’m Meagan I just turned 40! I’ve been married for 14 years. I’m a proud boy mom, happily navigating my way through the little boy years. I met my husband over 20 years ago in high school; we got married 10 years later after graduating from the University of South Florida. I currently help run a family business with my parents while blogging about my life and love of DIY projects!
When I’m not at a kids sports game, I enjoy spending time with my family on a beach anywhere. I also love decorating and organizing, fun DIY projects, bargain shopping, and eating out or in! I also love Barbecue anything and a good show or movie on Netflix.