Grade: all
Subject: Science

Teachers.Net Lesson Plans

#9. Capillary Action

Science, level: elementary
Posted by Dale Tagg (
Student Teacher, US
Materials Required: Smooth (but not shiny) white paper, pencils, scissors, a bowl of water, and food coloring.
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Concepts Taught: To show capillary action which is consistent with the way plants get moisutes.

Resources: Walpole, Brenda. 175 Science Experiments Random House, NY 1988


1. Put water into the bowl and add 2 drops of food coloring

2. Draw a box shape on your paper and cut out.

3. Fold the sides of the box up and place in the bowl of water.

4. Observe the box (or flower)

Results: Water gradually rises up through tiny, tubelike holes between the fibers of the paper. The paper swells and the petals open up, just like a real flower.

Follow up activity: Put a live flower in a glass of water containing food coloring. Observe the capillary action as the flower sucks up the water.


1. What do you think will happen when the paper flower is plced in the bowl of water?

2. What did you observe when you placed the flower in the water?

3. Why do you think this occurred?

4. What real world applications would involve capillary action?