Try this project to see how easy it is for pollution to spread through water!

What You Need:

  • Empty cardboard egg carton
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Flaxseed meal or another powdery substance
  • Paper towels
  • Tray to place under the egg carton

What You Do:

  1. Fold up a few paper towels and set them on the tray with the egg carton on top.egg carton
  2. Begin pouring water into one of the cups at one end of the egg carton and watch as the water flows from cup to cup. Stop pouring once each egg cup is full.pour water in egg carton
  3. Pour about 1 teaspoon of flax meal (ground flax seeds) into one of the end cups. Watch as the water carries it from cup to cup.pour flaxseed meal in egg carton
  4. Starting in a cup at the opposite end of the carton, add about 10 drops of food coloring. Give the cup with the food coloring a slight stir if you need to and watch as it slowly flows into the cups around it.pour food coloring into water in egg carton
  5. Leave your experiment out for an hour or two and you should start to notice water (and food coloring!) seeping out of the bottom of the egg carton and saturating the paper towels under the carton.observe in 1-2 hours

What Happened:

In this experiment, the egg carton represents how bodies of water, such as streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans, are connected to one another. By adding “pollution” (the flax meal and food coloring) into one cup, you showed how easily pollution, like trash, waste, and chemicals, is carried from the place where it is added to bodies of water that could be far away from where the pollution started!

After leaving the egg carton for awhile, the water and pollution (food coloring) started to seep out through the bottom and onto the paper towels. This is an example of how pollution that goes into a body of water can travel further into the ground and pollute areas around a stream or lake as well. This is called groundwater. When groundwater becomes polluted, it can harm plants whose roots soak up the groundwater!

It is important to remember not to litter no matter where you are at, but especially when you are near water, such as at the beach or lake. Pollution, even from garbage such as food wrappers, can be harmful to plants and animals that live in water.

Experiment adapted from this blog.

For further study: Simulate an Oil Spill, its effect on wildlife, and different clean up techniques. Then read this Water Pollution Prevention science lesson.