Magic Sand
The properties of two types of sand are compared.

Observations, properties of matter, hydrophilic, hydrophobic

  • Regular sand
  • Magic Sand
  • 2 Small bowls
  • Spoon
  • Dropper
  • Clear cup
  • Water

Students will do the procedure listed below with both the regular sand and then Magic Sand. Afterward the two types of sand will be compared. For each number students should record their observations.
  1. Pour some of the sand into a small bowl and observe how it flows. Take time to see, touch and smell the sand. However, the sand should NOT be tasted.
  2. Put some sand on a spoon and put a drop of water on the sand.
  3. Obtain a clear cup and fill it ¾ full with water. Pour some sand into the container.
  4. Gently move the sand in the water around with the spoon.
  5. Spoon some of the sand out of the water and place it in a second, empty bowl. Feel the sand.

Drawing Conclusions
Summarize the following:
  • What are the properties of regular sand?
  • What are the properties of Magic Sand?
  • How are regular sand and Magic Sand different?
  • Make an inference to explain the differences between the two types of sand.

The two types of sand have different behaviors when placed in the water. Regular sand becomes wet while Magic Sand stays dry. The two opposite behaviors can be used to illustrate hydrophilic or “water loving” substances and hydrophobic or “water fearing” substances. Grains of regular sand can absorb water and hence are hydrophilic; Magic Sand has been coated with a hydrophobic substance and hence they repel the water. Regular sand that absorbs water can mix with it and will flow around making it difficult to shape it; since Magic Sand does not absorb the water it holds it shape and can be molded even underwater.

Magic Sand poured into water can be molded.

*Adapted from “Mysterious Sand”, Teaching Chemistry with TOYS, pp. 183-188

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