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Science at Home: Don't Break the Surface Tension

Cohesion is how water molecules like to cling to each other. Surface tension is an extra-strong cohesive bond where water meets another substance like the atmosphere. This extra strong bond is an important property of water. It is how species like the water strider (or pond skater) can walk across the water.

With this experiment, you can attempt to place paperclips on the surface of the water. If you do not succeed, the paperclips will sink.

Once you have many paperclips resting on the water’s surface, add a few drops of dish soap and watch what happens. Dish soap has properties that weaken the cohesive bond of water.


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