Floating Ink Experiment

This is such a fun experiment for kids. Ok, maybe even I had a blast with this one. Part of what makes it so fun is that you aren’t just following directions, you do A LOT of experimenting with this one.

First we talked about the difference between dry erase markers, pens, pencils and permanent markers. Ink is liquid base so it seeps into porous paper where as pencil is graphite that sits on top which is why you can then erase it away. Glass isn’t porous which dry erase markers are meant to draw on, and dry erase markers (unlike wet erase markers) are alcohol based making it easy to wipe away.

Now for the experimenting. Some blogs talked about using ceramic, some plastic plates and some used glass. We chose to experiment with a 9×13 pan and a plastic plate bought at the dollar store. Although the plastic plate did work, our favorite was the 9×13 dish, both because of the glass and since it had higher sides it made it easier when pouring the water.

First up was the plastic dish. We used expo dry erase markers and drew different shapes, pictures and letters. Then you pour water on the plate (not directly on the art) and watch it slowly peel up off the plate and move around.

See how the heart and circle that were below the triangle and smiley face are now moving across the plate?! SO cool, right?! Something else we learned was the thickness of the lines you draw. If it’s too thin, it came up and immediately broke. If it’s too thick, it has a hard time coming up at all. The black rectangle is permanent marker to show the kids the difference between dry erase and permanent markers. We ALSO learned that the purple dry erase marker never worked as well as the black. I have no idea why that’s the case but it always struggled or wouldn’t even budge. We also used a blue one and it would sometimes come up but never as easily as the black.

We also had a fun time playing with blowing them around the water and picking them up. If you pick it up it turns into a small shriveled line and then when you put it back in and gently rock the dish back and forth it opens back up. Pretty neat!

I will say of all the shapes and drawings, the stick man is definitely the most successful. This was really a fun experiment with the kids. Trying different dishes, markers, colors, drawings, picking up, blowing the art around with a straw…it’s a true experiment and learning opportunity. Hope you have as much fun with it as we do.


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