See Water-Repelling Sand in National Geographic Hydrophobic Substances

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Have fun performing amazing science experiments at home with this National Geographic Hydrophobic Substances science kit.

We were recently gifted a pack to review this educational range and we learned heaps.

It’s a really cool science kit which demonstrates hydrophobic substances. Full disclosure: Before we opened this kit, I had no idea that these substances existed. But we soon learned that hydrophobic or “water fearing” materials are items which either repel water or are unable to bond with water molecules. They exist both in the natural world (plant world) and as man-made industrial products. Apparently, some modern car windshields are coated with hydrophobic material cause rainwater to bead and roll off. So read the Learning Guide before you begin.

It’s also recommended that you watch the How-To video to learn about the experiments before you start.

National Geographic Hydrophobic Science Kit

The kit includes:

  • Aerogel
  • Hydrophobic Sand
  • Spoon, sculpting tool and dust mask
  • Instruction booklet
  • A learning guide 

You’ll need:

  • Old clothes as they might get dirty with the substances
  • An area to work in where you won’t mind spilling Aerogel or hydrophobic sand like outdoors or inside area with old newspaper
  • Water for the experiments
  • Large bowl to experiment with the sand
National Geographic Hydrophobic Science Kit

The fun begins with the first experiment which involves Aerogel, an amazing substance which repels water but is also an incredible insulator against extreme heat or extreme cold. Aerogel was actually used on the Mars Rover vehicle to protect the electronic component from frigid temperatures on Mars.

Don’t worry, this experiment doesn’t involve space travel. Instead, you wet your finger and then coat it in Aerogel. (Even though it’s non-toxic, Aerogel shouldn’t be inhaled so pop the dust mask on kids to prevent inhalation). Once the finger is fully coated, stick it in a container of water. When you pull out your finger, it’s dry. Cool hey? This is due to the Aerogel which is extremely hydrophobic.

National Geographic Hydrophobic Science Kit

The next experiment is even cooler and involves hydrophobic sand. In this activity, the sand is immersed in water.

National Geographic Hydrophobic Science Kit

However, it doesn’t get wet. It either floats on top of the water or is submerged and solidifies into blobs yet it doesn’t get waterlogged like normal sand. When you retrieve the sand out of the water, it is completely dry. This is due to the sand being coated with hydrophobic oil that prevents the water molecules from bonding with it.

National Geographic Hydrophobic Science Kit
How the sand looks in water

This is where you can really have some fun. Throw the sand in a bowl and swish it around the water and create underwater sculptures.

Once you’re finished playing with the sand, you can reuse it. Just drain the water and place sand on paper towel to dry off any residual water. Once the water dries, you can place the sand back into its container.

National Geographic Hydrophobic Science Kit
Once the water is drained, you can see how the sand is dry with just one water drop on the surface

The Hydrophobic Substances is targeted for kids 8+ and it’s an activity that needs parental supervision due to the substances involved. Depending on interest levels, you could spend 30 minutes to hours experimenting with the substances.

In terms of educational value, this STEM science kit really demonstrates the magic of chemistry. The Learning Guide introduces the concepts of hydrophobia and surface tension enabling kids to experience this first-hand in a fun and engaging way. This kit encourages kids to get creative with the different substances and there are also additional experiments that kids can try.

Kid verdict (age 9): “Amazingly baffling and fun to mess around with. A great concept to introduce hydrophobic materials to kids like me.”

The National Geographic Hydrophobic Substances kit is $25rrp. Selected kits available at Australia Geographic, David Jones, Myer, Kidstuff, Toymate and all good toy retailers.

Disclosure: Newy with Kids received a National Geographic Hydrophobic Substances for review purposes. All opinions are our own.

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