Try this experiment with a soda can submarine to find out how a real submarine dives and surfaces. This is a quick and easy kitchen science experiment that the kids will want to repeat over and over again!
Making a Soda Can Submarine
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This experiment is super easy to set up. First, we gathered the following supplies from around the house:
- A tall vase, bowl, or pot 3/4 full of water
- An empty soda can
- Plastic tubing
Once we had our supplies gathered we headed to the kitchen to experiment with our soda can submarine. I placed a few towels underneath the vase to catch any spills and I’m sure glad I did! Luckily is was easy to wipe up at the end.
I had the kids follow these directions to make the soda can submarine dive and then resurface:
- Place one end of the tubing inside the soda can.
- Fill the soda can with water.
- Place the soda can in the vase. We used the tubing to stir up the water inside the soda can to work out any remaining air bubbles. Then we used an extra cup full of water to fill up any remaining space in the soda can. Once all the air is out of the can it should sink easily.
- Once the soda can sinks, blow air into the plastic tubing. Watch as the air travels through the tube into the can, making it surface!
A siphon is created once you are done blowing air into tubing. This means you will get a mouthful of water if you are lower than the water level. My son actually loved this and thought it was a super fun reward, but if you don’t want a drink, make sure your end of the tubing is higher than the water level!
The Science Behind the Soda Can Submarine
There is some really amazing science that makes a submarine work!
The key lies in the ballast tanks which can be alternately filled with water or air. When they are filled with air, the submarine is less dense than water, so it rises to the surface. When they are filled with water, the submarine is more dense than the surrounding water and dives. Check out this great article on How Stuff Works that explains how a submarine works in greater detail with a nice picture.
As air flows into the can, water is displaced, and flows out. This makes the soda can less dense than the surrounding water, which is what makes it rise to the surface!
We got this idea from The Usborne Book of Science Activities, which is jam-packed with hands-on science fun for kids of all ages.
If you are a visual person, check out the short video we made of our soda can submarine experiment below.