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Child Study Center

Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Learning & Development

Magic Sand

boy pours water on "magic sand"

Ben Gabel brought in a science experiment to share with the class. It was labeled as “Magic Sand.” As a group, we followed the directions on the paper that came with the sand. The children were first asked to make observations about the sand.

  • Akari: "It sticks to my finger."
  • Natalie: "It doesn’t smell good."
  • Maverick: "It’s dry. It comes off (finger)."
  • Jack: "It’s blue."
  • Gavin: "It’s super stinky."

After the initial observations, the class continued to follow the directions by adding the sand to water. The sand is hydrophobic, meaning that it is repelled by water. It clomped in the bottom of the water or floated on the top.

girl examining "magic sand"

After pouring some of the sand into the water, the question was asked, “What happened?”

  • Ben G.: "I see a snake. It made something."
  • Gavin: "One of the parts fell off." (There are two sections of sand in the bottom)
  • Jack: "It impresses me."
  • Maverick: "It looks like a roller coaster."
  • Natalie: "It’s floating. It connects." (The small grains of sand are attracted to each other and travel across the surface of the water to connect to each other.)
  • Gavin: "I bet it’s magnetic."

The children observed that if the sand was poured into the water quickly, it sank to the bottom of the glass. If the sand was poured slowly, it floated.

"magic sand" floating on water

A pencil was gently pushed into the floating sand. What will happen to the pencil?

  • Jack: "It will break."
  • Natalie: "Sand will get all over it."

The pencil was surrounded by the sand and did not get wet!

boy inspects pencil

They each wanted to push the pencil into the sand. They observed that if the pencil is pushed in slowly, it stays dry but if it is pushed fast, it gets wet. We then poured the water out of the cup. The sand at the bottom of the cup was observed.

Akari: "It’s dry!!!"

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