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WHEN DOES WATER OVERFLOW?

This project can be tried with different liquids. We'll use water, because it is easiest to get.

We each have a two small paper cups, a project tray, and a medicine dropper. Taking turns, we can go to the sink and fill one cup as far as we can, without the water over- flowing. Fill the other cup about half way, put both cups onto your trays, and return to your seats.

Put the tray on the level surface of your desk or on the table. With your medicine droppers, get water from the half- full cup and add it to the water in the full cup. Make a
note when the water reaches exactly the top of the cup. Now, add drops, counting each one, to the full cup, and watch the surface of the water. You'll have to scrunch down a bit to see it properly. (If it starts to overflow, just wait a minute, and then add another drop or two, but try not to let it run over again.)

How can this be? The water is higher than the cup! Hold a dark paper behind the cup so you can see it more clearly. Does there seem to be a film on the surface of the water? With a ruler, you could even measure the height of the water above the top of the cup.

How can water rise above the top of the cup? Surface tension does that, just like it does other wondrous things.

 

 
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