Water defying gravity

What happens when you take a mason jar full of water and turn it upside down?

When I asked my kids this question, my two year old replied with “Cup. Empty. Oh no!”  Five year old stated the obvious  “If the lid is not on, water will spill out. Gravity.” I think “duh” was implied. 

“What if I told you I could turn the jar upside down without spilling a drop?” I said and braced for displays of shock and amazement. “You just have to take it to space or on the airplane that goes like this” (makes parabolas in the air in the air.) Not the response I expected.  

“We are not leaving our kitchen for this experiment!”

“Oh…then there is no way you can keep the water inside the jar. It will spill and go EVERYWHERE!!!!” he shouted.

Challenge accepted.  

Materials needed for the experiment:

Jar with a round opening

Pitcher of water

Piece of fabric large enough to cover the mouth of the jar (I used cheese cloth)

Sink

1. Cover the jar with fabric.

2. Pour water in the jar.

3.  Keeping the mouth of the jar covered with your hand, use your other hand to turn the glass upside down. 

4. Remove your hand. Ta da! Water appers to be defying gravity! 

Science behind the experiment

Water leaked through cheesecloth holes when we poured it in, it’s only logical that the same will happen when we turn the jar upside down, right?

Cheesecloth stretched tightly over the mouth of the jar helped water molecules form surface tension. Water molecules bonded together to form a thin layer that kept the water in. 

There are many ways to observe water tension in action. These are my favorites. 

  1. Drops of water form a dome when they’re carefully placed on top of the coin.
  2. Belly flops! The burning sensation comes from water molecules forming a thin membrane that is harder to break with larger contact surface. 
  3. Water striders utilize water tension to glide on the surface. 
  4. Bubbles! Tension will always make the surface area of the bubble as smallest as it can.