Simple science starts here! This walking water experiment is incredibly easy and fun to set up for kids. All you need are a few simple supplies you can find in your own kitchen cupboards. Watch the water travel as it makes a rainbow of color! How does it do that? We love easy science experiments for kids!


Simple science starts here! Walking water science is incredibly easy and fun to set up with the kids! How can you make science really fun and doable for your kids? Try simple science at home using what you already have! Kids as young as preschool up through early elementary school age will love this easy rainbow science too!


This walking water experiment is a must-try if you have a junior scientist in the house! I have been wanting to try this forever because it looks so cool. Plus, your pantry is already stocked with everything you need to get started too!

I also like to keep a stock of basic science supplies on hand in our DIY science kit!

Easy science experiments start here, and we LOVE any kid’s science activities that are low cost and simple to set up. Walking water fits the bill, and is terrific science in the kitchen! Click here for more kitchen science experiments!

Science that’s colorful and simple to do! Plus, this experiment is interesting for multiple ages. Older kids should be able to set it up all by themselves and can also use our science journal page to record their results.

Aweosme kids science with easy to set up walking water physics for kids


The scientific method is a process or method of research. A problem is identified, information about the problem is gathered, a hypothesis or question is formulated from the information, and the hypothesis is put to test with an experiment to prove or disprove its validity.  Sounds heavy…

What in the world does that mean?!? The scientific method should simply be used as a guide to help lead the process.

You don’t need to try and solve the world’s biggest science questions! The scientific method is all about studying and learning things right around you.

As kids develop practices that involve creating, gathering data evaluating, analyzing, and communicating, they can apply these critical thinking skills to any situation. To learn more about the scientific method and how to use it, click here.

Even though the scientific method feels like it is just for big kids…

This method can be used with kids of all ages! Have a casual conversation with younger kiddos or do a more formal notebook entry with older kiddos!

Click here to get our printable junior scientist pack!


If you want to make this into a walking water science fair project where you are using the scientific method, you need to change one variable. You could repeat the experiment with different types of paper towels and observe the differences. Learn more about the scientific method for kids here.


  • Water
  • Test Tubes and Rack (clear plastic cups or mason jars work well too!)
  • Food Coloring
  • Paper Towels
  • Stirrer
  • Scissors
  • Timer (optional)


STEP 1. You can set up as many or as less jars as you like for this part.

We used 9 test tubes of primary colors (3 x red, 3 x yellow, 3 x blue). We added red, yellow, and blue food coloring (one color per test tube) in a pattern.

Give each test tube (or glass or cup) a little stir to evenly distribute the color. Try to put the same amount of food coloring in each container!

STEP 2. Cut thin strips of paper towel to fit in the test tubes. If you are using glasses or cups, you can judge the best size strip to fit what you are using.

Place the paper towel strips into the test tubes. There will be two ends in each tube.

STEP 3. Wait and watch what happens. At this point, you can set up a stopwatch to make note of how long it takes for the colors to meet and mix.

prepping walking water science activity


Before you insert the strips, you have the perfect opportunity to make some predictions about what will happen. Have your kids come up with a prediction (what they think will happen) and a hypothesis (an explanation) for the experiment.

You can start the conversation with… What do you think will happen when we put the paper towels into the water?

paper towels and food coloring supplies for walking water science

Once you have inserted the towels, it’s the perfect time to talk about what your kids see happening (observations).

Do they want to improve upon their hypothesis or have some new ideas about what might happen?

color mixing and capillary action with walking water science for kids


The whole process starts pretty quickly, but it does take a while for the colors to begin to mix with each other. You may want to leave it and come back to see the colors mixed.

This would be a great time to pull out the watercolors and do some color mixing art!

Or how about setting up a homemade lava lamp experiment while you wait!

Make sure to check on your walking water science experiment every once in a while to see the changes that are constantly taking place. The kids will be amazed at how the water seems to defy gravity!

walking water science and color wheel for color theory science too


Walking water science is all about capillary action which also can be seen in plants. You can even check out our celery osmosis experiment to see this!

The colored water travels up the fibers of the paper towel. The gaps in the paper towel are similar to the capillary tubes of a plant that pull the water up through the stems.

The fibers of the paper towel help the water move upward which is this walking water experiment looks like it is defying gravity. How else does water move up the tree?

As the paper towels absorb the colored water, the water travels up the towel strip. It meets up with the other colored water that has traveled up the neighboring strip.

Where the primary colors interact, they turn into the secondary colors. Both colors will continue to travel as long as the towel fibers will absorb the water.

We left our walking water science experiment out overnight and had a mucky looking puddle of water underneath the rack the next day. The paper towels had become oversaturated!

colors mixing during walking water science experiment


Check out our list of science experiments for Jr Scientists!


Discover more fun and easy STEM activities right here. Click on the link or on the image below.

Best ever STEM and science activities for kids.

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