Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Ocean Currents, Part IV: Polar vs. Tropical Water

For this experiment, you will need 2-6 to 8 oz. Styrofoam cups, 2 push pins, a clear rectangular 6-qt. container such as a small aquarium, 20 marbles, red and blue food coloring, hot, cold and room temperature water.

Place marbles in the cups to keep them from floating or tipping. Pour icy-cold water in one of the cups and add 6 drops of blue food coloring. Stir. Pour very hot water in the other cup and add 6 drops of red food coloring. Stir.
Stick a push pin in each cup at the level where the hole will be just below the surface of the water in the large container. The pins should be at the same level in both cups. Leave the pins in the cup. Place white paper or cloth behind the container so that any water movement is easily seen. Carefully place the cups in the container of water with the push pins facing away from each other. Pull out the push pins in each cup. Bend down so that you are eye level with the experiment.

Continue to add the appropriate temperature water to the two cups to keep the water level in each cup almost to the top.
Where does the clear (room temperature) blue (cold) and red (hot) water start and where do they end up?

You may also notice a phenomenon called upwelling. It is when cold water hits a solid such as land, or in this case, the side of the aquarium, the water goes up and ends up just under the layer of hot water. You can see how this would create additional currents.

 Based on your observations, what generalizations can you could make about what happens when water of different temperatures meet?
Alex's science journal page

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Originally posted Feb 4, 2011


  1. That looks way too cool. I'm trying to think how I could possibly work that into a study of our states..... Probably not, but it's still cool.

  2. This looks fascinating and very fun. I think we need to find an excuse to try it too!

  3. I Love this! I will be bookmarking this! Fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

  4. I think we tried this on a smaller scale once. It looks so cool in the aquarium - I think I'll put it back on my list

  5. This one is so great and it looks beautiful as the colors spread. We don't have an aquarium (though we totally should), so we use a large glass bowl.

  6. Anonymous28.11.12

    I just found your blog and love it! Thanks for all the great ideas for making learning fun! We have really been enjoying adding them to our homeschool!


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