Kids have the most incredible imaginations. Every time my kids draw a picture, you can see that it “comes to life” in their minds. Well, how about if we can use science to actually make your drawings float? Your kids are going to LOVE the dry erase water trick! You definitely want to read the details below though, so that you use the right kind of dry erase markers and the correct plate or glass surface. I don’t want anyone ruining their grandmother’s delicate china! Plus, we will discuss the science behind why your drawings are able to float.
Science Experiment Virtual Camp
We are doing an entire science experiment virtual camp, using ingredients and stuff that you most likely already have around your house. Make sure that you join our Facebook Group and follow us on Pinterest, so you that you won’t miss the additional activities! Here are the other daily activities, in case you missed any so far:
How to Make Your Drawings Float
After much trial and error, we have discovered the absolute BEST materials for making your drawings float.
What markers work best for the floating picture water trick?
As noted in the video below, you DEFINITELY want these Expo Chisel Tip Markers, versus these Expo Fine Tip Dry Erase Markers. In the name of science, we bought and tried out a variety of different brands and sizes, and Expo brand worked the best by far. The chisel tip are thicker and create pictures that are less likely to fall apart as they float around in the water.
Dry erase water trick (materials)
- A non-porous, smooth surface (we used a glass Pyrex 9×13 baking dish)
- Expo Chisel Tip Markers
- A large cup of water
How to make your pictures float (procedure)
The absolute BEST way to learn how to make your drawings float is to watch my daughter’s video below. It would mean the absolute world to her if you liked her video here, and follow her Inspired Sparks YouTube channel here!
As a recap, here are the steps to do the dry erase plate trick!
- Draw a picture on your non-porous, smooth surface. Please make sure to check with your parents first, as we do NOT want you to ruin any important objects in your home!
- It is best to draw solid drawings that do not use lots of thin lines, as delicate details will tend to break.
- Let the drawings dry for a couple of seconds.
- Slowly, pour warm water (not HOT, not COLD, but warm water!) into the side of the dish.
- Carefully move the water from side to side and stare in shock as your drawings float and come to life!
Why Do Your Dry Erase Drawings Float in Water?
In order to understand the reason why this science experiment works, you have to first understand how dry-erase markers work. If you draw on a white board at school with a permanent marker, it will not wipe off (do NOT try this!) The reason that dry-erase markers wipe off of white boards is because they contain a solvent that can dissolve the colored pigments used in the marker. The solvent is most often a type of alcohol.
In addition, dry erase markers contain a resin that helps them not stick to non-porous surfaces. The resin makes the ink “slippery” and is usually an oily silicone polymer. If you have ever accidentally gotten dry erase marker on clothing, you will know that it stains and is hard to get off (if not impossible!) That is because fabric has pores, and the oily silicone polymer only keeps the ink from sticking to NON-POROUS surfaces!
Important Scientific Terms
We just learned about two scientific terms (polymers and solvents) that I want to explain a bit further, in case you are unsure what those words mean.
What is a polymer?
A polymer is a long chain of molecules that is made up of smaller repeating units. You can have natural polymers (that occur on their own in nature) such as wool, protein, fingernails and DNA. There are also synthetic polymers, which humans make, such as plastic, silicone or nylon.
What is a solvent?
A solvent is a liquid (or other material) that can dissolve another solution. For example, if you use nail polish remover (acetone) to take the nail polish off of your fingernails, you are using a solvent! The acetone is the solvent for the nail polish!
Want to delve deeper into this science experiment?
Here are a few extensions for additional experiments to test out with this dry erase water trick!
- Try different surfaces (after checking with your parents first!)
- Does a disposable plastic plate work?
- What about a plastic cup?
- How about a paper plate?
- What happens if you use a liquid other than water?
- Does rubbing alcohol have a different effect than water?
- What about soda?
- Is salt water different from regular water?
- You can even try milk or juice!
- How does temperature effect your results?
- Does hot water work better or worse?
- What about cold water?
- Try different types of markers
- What happens with broad tip vs fine tip dry erase markers? (Sorry for the spoiler alert above!)
- If you use washable markers, what happens?
- What about if you use a permanent marker? (ONLY try this with your parent’s permission and on objects that are ok to be thrown out!)
How to remove dry erase marker residue
We had absolutely no issue removing the Expo Chisel Tip Markers from our Pyrex baking dish. However, if you end up with any residue that isn’t coming off with water, try rubbing it with a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol. Try this on a small spot on the bottom of your dish first, just to be sure that the rubbing alcohol won’t hurt your dish. As I keep saying though, please do not do this experiment on a dish or container that would make you upset to throw out. As my grandma said, it is better to be safe than sorry!
Did Your Floating Dry Erase Picture Trick Work?
Don’t forget to join our Facebook Group and follow us on Pinterest, so you that you won’t miss any of our homemade science experiments! Also, let me know if you were able to make your drawings float! I would LOVE to see photos and videos of your experiments in action! Please post your photos and videos in our Facebook Group to inspire others!