Tension in the Water

Contributor: Ann Keeney. Lesson ID: 11511

Tension in the water is not just what happens when a shark appears! It's the result of tiny molecules clinging together. Get your pepper and toothpicks and whip up an experiment about surface tension!


Physical Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever jumped into a pool of water?
  • What happened when you did?

jump into pool

At the surface of the water, molecules are held together and create tension.

This tension will allow some insects to float and stride on the water surface. Tension is the force that causes the molecules on the surface of a liquid to be pushed together to form a layer.

There is an attractive force placed upon the surface molecules of a liquid by the molecules beneath, that draws the surface molecules into the bulk of the liquid and makes the liquid assume the shape having the least surface area.

Let's explore this concept further. Watch this How does Surface Tension work? by Kids Science video, and take notes in your notebook:

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  • What did you learn about surface tension?
  • Do you understand why certain things can float on water?

Record your answers in your notebook.

surface tension diagram

When you are ready, move on to the Got It? section.

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