ACS: Inquiry in Action - Liquids Have Properties (Lesson 2.1)

Students do simple tests to observe the properties of water, mineral oil, and corn syrup on the surface of a zip-closing plastic bag to investigate the question: Can liquids that look similar have different properties?


Students will be able to plan and carry out an investigation to discover and compare the properties of liquids. Students will develop an understanding that liquids, like solids, have their own characteristic properties.

Key Concepts

  • Liquids have their own characteristic properties.
  • Even if liquids look similar, they can have different properties.
  • The properties of liquids can be discovered by doing tests on them.
  • To compare the properties of liquids, the liquids need to be tested in the same way.

NGSS Alignment

  • NGSS 2-PS1-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties.


Students have looked at the properties of solids and in this lesson, will see that liquids also have properties.

  • Students investigate three clear colorless liquids: water, mineral oil, and corn syrup.
  • Students place drops of each liquid on the surface of a zip-closing plastic bag and see that the liquids look and act differently.
  • Students tilt the bag and see that the liquids move down the plastic at different rates.
  • Finally, students see a demonstration in which a drop of food coloring is placed in each liquid and students make observations about the different way the food coloring looks in each.


Download the Student Activity Sheet (PDF) and distribute one per student when specified in the activity. The activity sheet will serve as the Evaluate component of the 5-E lesson plan.

Science Topics
Chemistry, Matter
K-6, Educator
2nd Grade
Descriptions of PDFs

Lesson Plan (PDF) | Student Activity Sheet (PDF) | Teacher Background (PDF) | Connections to NGSS (PDF)

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