water rainbow experiment

Science for Kids: Water Rainbow Experiment

Kids love rainbow activities and today I’m sharing a fun rainbow science experiment. This activity can be used as an extension of our kitchen science or magic science discovery boxes available on our website.

Rainbows always make me think of spring but this activity can be done year-round. I’m adding it this week as part of our ongoing science series here on the DIY page.

Traveling Water Rainbow Supplies

  • Paper towels with perforated lines
  • Several options of food coloring
  • 5 Wide-mouthed glass jars or cups with water in them

Activity Instructions

  1. Set the jars up in a circle and add a different color of food coloring to the water in each jar.
  2. Fold paper towels into thirds and dip the end of each paper towel into a glass of water like in the picture.
  3. Wait for a little while and the colors will travel up the paper towels to meet the color in the jar next to them.

When the water from two cups blend they can make a 3rd color too. For example, placing blue and yellow jars of water next to each other can blend as green, red, and yellow blend as orange, and red and blue turn purple.

How does the Water Travel from Jar to Jar?

Now we learn how the water goes from jar to jar blending colors. The paper towel acts like a sponge sucking up the water from each jar. Once there isn’t any dry area to absorb the colored water the absorption slows. When the colored water meets the water from another jar the liquids blend together but won’t continue from jar to jar without a dry paper towel to absorb (or soak up) the liquid. Because the colored water doesn’t continue from jar to jar we’re able to make a rainbow of colors!

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