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Science Rocks!

Color Splash


your results

Sent in by:
Sara of NB

Make beautiful colored designs!

Materials Needed

  • 3 clear plastic cups
  • water
  • cooking oil
  • liquid food coloring
  • pencil



  1. Check with a grown-up before you begin.
  2. Fill one cup about 2/3 full of water and another about 2/3 full of oil.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to each cup. Leave space between the drops so they don't touch. What happens?
  4. Now fill the third cup about 2/3 full of water. Pour in enough cooking oil so it forms a thin layer on top of the water.
  5. What do you think will happen if you add food coloring to this last cup? Make a prediction and then test it out.
  6. Touch one of the drops of food coloring in the last cup with the tip of a pencil. What happens?
  7. Here's why this works. When you add food coloring to water, it mixes in. When you add food coloring to oil, it stays in a little ball and does not mix in. Why? Food coloring is mostly made of water, and water and oil don't mix. Even if you stir them, the oil separates and forms a layer on top of the water. So when you add food coloring to the cup that has water and oil, each drop is coated with oil. That is why the drops sit in the oil layer. The oil is like a raft that helps the food coloring float. If you poke a drop with a pencil, the oil layer is broken. Then the food coloring mixes with the water and makes a cool design.

Now it's time for you to experiment. What happens if you use vinegar instead of food coloring? What happens if you use a different kind of cooking oil? Choose one thing to change (that's the variable), and predict what you think will happen. Then test it and send us your results.

Some of your Results

Haley, age 12 of Ideal, GA wrote:
It was an awesome experiment!!! When my sister and I did this it was astonishing. When the oil hit the water we figured out that the water weighs more than the oil did. When we put the food coloring in the cup with the oil what it looked like was little dots floating in the cup and it was my fav. one too. When we put it in the water it like erupted and the water turned red(food coloring). When we put the food coloring in the water and the oil combaned the bottom of the cup had turned red cause of the water but the oil was on top there were little dots everywhere.

ZOOM Fan, age 10 of Tarlac City wrote:
It was so awesome! But when me and my mom tested it out. she put to much oil so when I poked it, nothing happened but then a few seconds later, it poped by its self! they look like fireworks in water... WATERWORKS!

Veronica, age 8 of Redondo Beach, CA wrote:
I tried it for mt school's science fair. It was feally fun to do and to set up.

Austin & Aubree of Fielding, UT wrote:
It was lots of fun to see how the food coloring reacted. My son thought the water and the food coloring was cool. My daughter thought poping the coloring drops was cool. Thanks for the fun ideas!!

Chyrstal, age 10 of Casa Grande, AZ wrote:
YO, it is me the food coloring was in a small round ball. IT WAS OOL!!!

Nickie, age 14 of Anchorage, AK wrote:
My partner and I did this project and we got all these color full shapes.

Mandy, age 12 of Bozeman, MT wrote:
I decided to stir up the water and oil cup. The food coloring still stayed in a ball formation but it broke into a hundred little ones!!

Shelby, age 15 of Hickory Flat, MS wrote:
the food coloring in the water spread out while the food coloring in the oil stayed in a little buble. and when the water and oil together it was awmsome on top it was a bubble and when I pushed it down it spread out

Denise, age 10 of Edinburg, TX wrote:
first I put the water then I put the oil and when I added 3 drops on the oil it looked liked if it was just a rock but when I poked it with a pencil colorful colors came out it looked beautiful like a rainbow.

Ashley, age 11 wrote:
like oh my gosh it is so cool I did it for my science prodgect

Stephon, age 13 of Crenshaw, MS wrote:
The food coloring stayed in a ball. It was very cool.

Andrea, age 7 of El Paso wrote:
Wow!!! I really liked this project because it worked!!! U actually see that the food coloring spreaded in the water but not on the oil!!! cool project thanx

Daniel, age 10 of Phoenix, AZ wrote:
same as everyone else but I also put strips of white paper in the experiments and the oil protected the paper from the food coloring! Also, it was neat to watch the colored water fall off the white paper!

Latavvis, age 11 of MS wrote:
I put the food coloering in the oil and stayed like a rock

Brooke, age 13 of TN wrote:
It made little tiny fireworks! It was really awesome!

Melissa, age 11 of Bronx, NY wrote:
I put salt and Vinger then I put the food coloring and it made a colorful exposion.

Sarah, age 11 of Florida wrote:
i loved that expiremnt and every body else does... also the teacher was happy that it worked easy and beautiful.. well when I made it infront of the class it worked same as ZOOM. com said Iloved it... Thanx ZOOM!

Ashley, age 13 of Highland wrote:
There were so many differnt colors.

Jasmine, age 11 of Chicago, IL wrote:
When I pored the oil into the water the oil floated to the top of the cup.

Anusha, age 8 of Miramar, FL wrote:
it made colorful colors

Henry, age 5 of Livonia, MI wrote:
Blue dots formed in the oil and in the water glass, the water turned blue. When I stirred the blue oil bubbles, tinier oil bubbles formed. Cool! I liked how the oil made a raft for the bubbles on top of the water.

Brandi, age 12 of Chicago, IL wrote:
everyone loved it!!! What was really fascinating was how the dots popped when I poked it with a pencil. Thanks sooo much zoom!!!

Kyler, age 12 of Asheville, NC wrote:
It all stayed solid in the oil and sank to the bottom of the water.

Ilya, age 8 of Edinburgh wrote:
It was so be-a-u-ti-ful! This is a very cool experiment!

Tabitha, age 7 of Indianapolis, IN wrote:
When I put the food coloring in the oil, it just dropped to the bottom. When I put food coloring in the water it spread.

Brianna, age 11 of Chicago, IL wrote:
Oil stayed at top.

Sammy, age 4 of NH wrote:
It went diffrent colors.

ZOOM Fan of CA wrote:
IT WAS SO COOL all the colors just drifting around in he cup it was awsome!!!

Jordan, age 8 of Austin, TX wrote:
I think the food coloring is more light because it sank to the bottom and the oil stayed on the top.

Shelby, age 9 of Summerville, SC wrote:
Well it was vey colorful it chenges color it is vey bright.

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