2C. Water And Its Properties


Tasks to be completed:

  1. Complete the video
  2. Follow along with the activities
  3. Complete the discussion prompt at the end of this page

Materials (also outlined in the video before each activity):

  • Access to a faucet
  • Plastic Objects (comb, balloon, or PVC pipe work best)
  • Towel, head of hair (works best), or a furry cat
  • Baggie number 3 from your supply box
  • Scissors
  • Extra tissue paper strips (optional)
  • Cups from baggie number 4 (optional) — we will use this bag in the next section
  • Food dye (optional)
  • Water
  • Sun/lamp
  • Small, light colored rock
  • Paper
  • Writing Utensil


Although you may be familiar with the properties of water, we’re going to explore how these properties allow for the water cycle to function the way it does.  First, let’s review how water is structured at a molecular level.

This presentation includes six activities and one optional activity.  Although the video is a little over 15 minutes, it will take approximately an hour to complete.


Neat Resources:

  • Adhesion –  tendency of dissimilar particles or surfaces to cling to one another
  • Cohesion – action or property of like molecules sticking together
  • Capillary action – ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of, or even in opposition to, external forces like gravity
  • Electromagnetic – electrical and magnetic forces or effects produced by an electric current
  • Heat capacity – the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of a substance 1 degree Celsius (°C)
  • High specific heat capacity –  it takes more energy to increase the temperature of the substance compared to others
  • Polarity – a separation of electric charge leading to a molecule or its chemical groups having an electric dipole moment, with a negatively charged end and a positively charged end
  • Solvent – substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution
  • Static charge –  imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material


Discussion Prompt:

Many individuals are familiar with the properties of water, but it becomes difficult to apply them to something like the water cycle.  Were you familiar with how these properties fit in the water cycle?  Are there any properties or applications we missed that you believe is important?

If you have any questions, please list them in the comments below.  Feel free to submit any additional thoughts you have as well.

wellwatchadmin2C Water And Its Properties


Join the conversation
  • Andy Russell - July 7, 2020

    This was great! I teach all of this vocabulary but apparently haven’t done a good enough job of connecting it to the water cycle. I do the water drops on a penny activity and relate that to properties of water, but haven’t connected that to the idea of a size limit for raindrops. Capillary action I think I’ve connected properly. I talk about the polarity of the water molecule and how that produces cohesion and adhesion, but did not relate that to water as a solvent. With heat capacity, I usually talk about the heaps of snow in large parking lots that have been plowed, and how even when the weather has warmed back up, it takes a week or more to melt. I always talk about it taking a large amount of energy to heat water, but I don’t know that I’ve ever said that it has to lose a lot of energy in order to freeze, therefore cools slowly. Oops.

    I didn’t know that hydrogen bonding created the lattice as water freezes, just that crystals have a lattice structure.

  • Colette Hunt - July 7, 2020

    I was familiar with most of these properties but never really thought about how they fit into the water cycle. We specifically do an unit over heat transfer and test water, air and objects to see which ones keep and lose heat the fastest but never thought to connect it back to our water cycle unit. I was familiar with water tension and cohesion but never thought to talk about rain drop formation within the cycle. Kids always ask why ice floats and I’ve always understood that it was just less dense. But I now know that its because the structure of the solid that spread it out and create a less dense structure otherwise our lakes would freeze from the bottom up! I don’t think there were any other properties that I can think of about water. This was a great refresher about water!

  • Benita Wilson - July 13, 2020

    I have learned these properties but never made the connection to how they fit into the water cycle. I have taught the water cycle and touched on some of these properties but not this in depth. I really liked the explanation of capillary action allowing plants to be a part of the water cycle. When teaching transpiration as a part of the water cycle, students have asked HOW water comes out of plants and we touched on stomas but this activity is a much clearer way of seeing plants as a part of the water cycle. Thank you for all the great activities I can add to my Water Cycle Unit!

  • Kiera Mekelburg - July 14, 2020

    I am familiar with the properties of water, but I love how these activities are hands on and can show kids visually what is happening in the water cycle. I felt as if these were all simple experiments that helped to explain complicated vocabulary for elementary students to understand. I really enjoyed the explanation of water being polar and giving the students the task of trying to get 15 water droplets on a penny. I also never knew that water froze in a lattice form, creating snowflakes! Great information.

  • Marissa Jordening - July 16, 2020

    While I was aware of these properties, I never fully connected them in the water cycle. The hands-on activities were very helpful for visualizing and drawing those connections. The capillary action visual with the colored water and paper towel is a great way to connect plants into the water cycle.

  • Abigail Seen - July 22, 2020

    I was familiar with the properties of water. It is very helpful to integrate this section with the lessons about Aquifer and Groundwater. Students may find it easier to remember the properties this way. I love to hear the phrase “universal solvent” because I think this is one of the most important lessons in life that matters most. Our bodies are 70% water and so is Earth. Water creates an environment that sustains and nurtures plants, animals and humans, making Earth a perfect match for life in general.

  • Ambrette Gilkey - January 5, 2021

    I have briefly been introduced to the properties of water, and if I was I don’t remember or relate it to prior knowledge. Relating the properties to what I see everyday was very helpful and increased my understanding. I imagine learning and teaching the idea of how the molecules work together like a dance. I envision (post pandemic) allowing kids to move their bodies through understanding in relationship to one another. Spreading out and expanding like a snow crystal forming from a water droplet to represent the cooling molecules and lattice structure. Mimicking cohesion and surface tension that is formed and split by air pressure. This could also be turned into some version of a game similar to tag. The rising and falling of capillary action and relating to moving through the water cycle could be an interpretive dance all on it’s own.

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