You are watching: Why (if you are careful) are you able to float a needle on the surface of water?

Chemistry 9-12: chemistry bonding

2h. * college student know exactly how to recognize solids and also liquids held together by valve der Waals forces or hydrogen bonding and also relate these pressures to volatility and also boiling/ melting suggest temperatures.

A metal needle or record clip has higher density the that the water. So when it is dropped right into water, it drops down right into the bottom of water. However, if we put it horizontally on the water v a most caution, it can float nearly forever due to the surface stress of water.

Surfaces, or more generally interfaces, show some physical properties which space not uncovered in the bulk of the same material. The finest known example of such residential or commercial property is surface ar tension. Intermolecular forces produce the surface tension. The water molecules at the surface are pulled in by the cohesive force in between themselves and also molecules inside the bulk and also thus have greater potential energy than those inside. The water keeps the round surface shape since there are no water molecules exterior the surface ar to balance this inward pull. This cohesive force acts favor a elastic membrane i beg your pardon resists gift torn.


The photos above show the framework of water molecules. In between water molecule there are hygrogen bonding, which room attractive forces. The yellow lines stand for hydrogen bonding. Within molecules have attractive forces in all direction, so these pressures are canceled out. Therefore, they don"t feel any kind of net force, therefore they don"t have any kind of potential energy. In contrast, the surface molecules have actually only side and downward attration forces. Therefore horizontally they entice each other and act choose a membrane. In a upright direction to the center, they have potential energy. To reduce this energy, they shot to do their surface area together samll together possible.

The size of press exerted by an object depends top top its weight and also contact area. As soon as we fall a needle vertically, even though it has the same weight, the has tiny contact area, which leader to huge pressure top top the surface ar of water resulting in tearing the surface and also falling down. In fact, that"s why needles have such spicy tips. In contrast, if is put horizontally come the surface of water, it has actually larger call area and less press exerting top top the water surface.

When soap is added to the water, the needle will be thrust to sink through the disruption the the water"s surface ar tension. Make certain students watch what wake up to the needle. The term surfactant is a mix of "surface acting agent". Surfactants space usually organic compounds that room amphipathic, meaning they save both hydrophobic groups (their "tails") and hydrophilic teams (their "heads"). Therefore, they space soluble in both essential solvents and also water. Surfactants minimize the surface tension of water by adsorbing in ~ the liquid-gas interface. They additionally reduce the interfacial tension in between oil and water by adsorbing in ~ the liquid-liquid interface.


Questioning Script

Prior knowledge & experience: metal iron has higher density 보다 that that water, so things made of stole sinks right into the water.

Root question: What provides the steel needle rise on water?

Target response: Students understand the result of surface tension and fudamentally the strength of intermolecular bonding.

Common Misconceptions:

Students commonly think hefty metal always sink right into water without considering the result of shape also though the form of an object determines the buoyance and also exerting press onto water. Young student don"t think the there space intermolecular pressures within a liquid. Students think that only the load of an item affects the pressure exerted by the object.

Question for students

Why carry out we should put the needle onto the item of document to make it float? Why perform we should dry the needle up prior to we use it? What renders the needle float? just how the detergent renders the floating needle sink? perform you think the needle deserve to float on the oil v the very same method?


to fill a maker or glass tumbler fifty percent with water. fall a metal needle or document clip into water in bespeak to show the reality that the metal has higher density 보다 that of water. acquire the needle out of water and also dry the needle the end to reuse it. Cut document towel to gain a item of paper. Put the needle ~ above the piece of paper. Gain a glass the water. Then placed the piece of file with the needle ~ above the water. As soon as the paper is soaked, press the file into the water to remove it. Stir the water carefully to present the needle is floating. Prepare a tiny amount soap water through kitchen soap. Include a drop of soap water into the glass, climate watch the needle sinking. for the compare of surface anxiety of miscellaneous liquids, use ethanol or vegetable oil.

Surface tension is essential for the move of power from wind come water to create waves. Tide are important for rapid oxygen diffusion in lakes and seas.
Because of the high surface ar tension in between water and also air, water striders are able to literally walk on water.

Surface tension reasons these water droplets on pipeline to bead up forming the smallest surface ar possible.

See more: What Should You Do To Avoid Capsizing Or Swamping? 11 Practical Tips To Avoid Capsizing Or Swamping

The water molecule at the surface are pulled in by the cohesive force between themselves and molecules inside the droplet. The water keeps that is droplet shape because there space no water molecules external the surface ar to balance this inward pull.