Investigation: Properties of Water with Lab Stations

In AP Biology, early units focus on the chemistry of life which includes the topic of water properties. Water properties that are essential to life include cohesion and adhesion, water’s polarity, water as a solvent, and its high heat capacity. I usually provide students with a short introductory lecture before students head to the lab.

In this activity, students move through stations where they perform tasks that demonstrate these water properties. They answer questions as they go on the student handout and conduct a final inquiry activity on factors that affect evaporation.

The student handout includes instructions for each station. You could also print cards for stations that have instructions on them and give students a more streamlined handout to write their answers.

Most of the materials required are simple and available in most science labs. This document outlines all the materials needed and includes photos of the lab stations for simple reference.


Quick Overview of Stations:

  • Surface tension using pennies, soap, and water
  • Surface tension using whole milk, water and food coloring (creating swirls)
  • Density vs surface tension using aluminum foil
  • Create a mini lava lamp using food coloring, Alka seltzer tablets, water and oil.
  • Warm water versus cold water (submerged test tubes)
  • Solubility of sugar and salt in water and in ethanol

Resource Collection:

Answer key and entire bundle of resources available at Teachers Pay Teachers.