Let’s test Density with Breakers in a Bottle!
Here’s what you will need:
- Clear bottle with lid (clean soda bottle will work)
- Corn syrup
- Vegetable oil
- Blue food coloring
- Paper towels
- Water and pitcher
Let’s make our Breaker in a Bottle!
- Fill your bottle ¼ full with corn syrup. Add a drop or two of food coloring and slowly swirl. The food coloring will make the swirls easier to see. Please note that the food coloring will not completely mix with the corn syrup.
- Very carefully add vegetable oil and fill as much to the top as you can.
- Screw the cap back onto the bottle.
- Then swirl the bottle slowly. What do you see?
- Try shaking the bottle up and down or side to side. What different patterns do you notice?
- If the liquid inside the bottle looks like it is all one solid color, just twirl or shake it again to make more patterns.
How does it work?
In deep water, wave energy can travel for thousands of miles once it gets going. It isn’t until it reaches a shallow place, like a beach, that it starts to slow down. At that point the bottom of the wave starts to lose speed and drag along the ground while the top of the wave is still charging ahead at full speed. Eventually the wave curls over itself and breaks on the beach making it perfect for body surfing.
Each wave in your mini ocean reaches the narrow end of the bottle. It behaves just as a real wave does when it passes through shallow water along the shoreline. The lower portion of the wave slows down as it rubs against the sandy or rocky ground, or the narrow part of the bottle. The top of the wave rolls right along and topples over the lagging bottom, creating a breaker.
All waves have several features in common. They have height, which is the distance from the trough to the crest. The waves have length, the distance from crest to crest. And, waves move. What creates a wave in the ocean? The wind!
Try these additional experiments!
Add water to your bottle! Repeat step one above. Replace the vegetable oil in step two with water. Does your experiment still work? How about if you use corn syrup, water, and vegetable oil, all together? What kinds of patterns do you observe? Which experiment is most like the patterns found in the ocean?