Physics is fun and sometimes even a bit like magic! Explore friction with a fun and simple activity that uses classic household supplies. This floating rice science activity is a MUST try for the budding scientist and perfect for all those curious kiddos out there. Simple science experiments are a great way to engage kids with hands-on learning that is also playful!
FRICTION EXPERIMENT FOR KIDS
DO PENCILS FLOAT?
Our Floating Rice Experiment is a fun example of static frictional force at work. We love simple physics experiments and have been exploring science for kindergarten, preschool, and early elementary for almost 8 years now. Make sure to check out our collection of simple science experiments for kids!
Our science activities are designed with you, the parent or teacher, in mind! Easy to set up, quick to do, most activities will take only 15 to 30 minutes to complete and are heaps of fun! Plus, our supplies lists usually contain only free or cheap materials you can source from home.
Grab some rice and a bottle, and let’s find out what happens when you put a pencil in the mix! Do you think you can lift a bottle of rice with a pencil? Try this fun friction experiment and find out. Make sure to read up on the science behind it too!
- Uncooked Rice
- Food coloring (optional)
- Bottle (glass or plastic both work- also done this with a 16oz water bottle)
HOW TO MAKE RICE FLOAT
STEP 1. Color the rice yellow (or whatever color) if desired. Check out our step by step instructions for dying rice.
STEP 2. Place the colored rice in the bottle.
STEP 3. Stick the pencil into the rice. Then pull the pencil out.
Repeat until the rice is packed tighter and tighter. What do you notice? Can you lift your bottle of rice with just a pencil?
Eventually, the friction between the grains of rice will be so much that the pencil won’t come out, and you can lift the bottle of rice with the pencil.
HOW DO YOU MAKE RICE FLOAT?
When the rice is inside the bottle, the grains are next to each other but there is still space or air between each grain. When you push the pencil into the bottle of rice, the grains are forced together to make room for the pencil. As you continue to push the pencil in, the grains move closer and closer together until they are rubbing against each other.
This is where friction starts to work. What is friction? Friction is the resistance to motion between two surfaces that are sliding, or trying to slide, across each other. The amount of friction depends on what materials from the two surfaces are made of. The rougher the surface, the more friction is produced.
Once the grains of rice are packed so closely together that the friction becomes overwhelming, they will push against the pencil with a strong enough force to make the pencil stuck, allowing you to pick up the whole bottle with the pencil.
MORE FUN SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS FOR KIDS
HOW TO MAKE RICE FLOAT
Click on the image below or on the link for more science experiments for kids.