Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students observe how water and oil interact before and after being frozen.

These Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 1 Science

  • Everyday materials can be physically changed in a variety of ways (ACSSU018)

Year 2 Science

  • Different materials can be combined, including by mixing, for a particular purpose (ACSSU031)

Year 3 Science

  • A change of state between solid and liquid can be caused by adding or removing heat (ACSSU046)

Year 5 Science

  • Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways (ACSSU077)

Year 6 Science

  • Changes to materials can be reversible, such as melting, freezing, evaporating; or irreversible, such as burning and rusting (ACSSU095)

Syllabus outcomesST1-12MW, ST2-12MW, ST2-7PW, ST3-12MW.

Time required: 5 minutes to explain and conduct experiment, 4 hours for freezing, 5 minutes for observing and discussing results.

Resources required: Clear plastic container, water, oil (vegetable oil or olive oil), freezer.

Safety advice: None.

Keywords: Oil, water, freezing.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Brief summary:

Students observe how water and oil interact before and after being frozen.

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

You will need:

  • Clear plastic container
  • Water
  • Oil (vegetable oil or olive oil)
  • Freezer

What to do:

Step 1. Pour some water into the clear plastic container.

Step 2. Add roughly the same amount of oil to the container.

Step 3. Leave this for a few minutes until the oil rises to the top of the container and then place the container in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Step 4. After these couple of hours, you should see that the water is now on top of the oil.

How does it work?

Before going into the freezer the oil rises to the top of the container because the oil becomes lighter than the water.

After being in the freezer the oil settles to the bottom of the container because as it freezes the water becomes less dense than the oil.

Take it further


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Student Worksheet

In this experiment you will be adding oil to water, mixing the two together and placing this solution in the freezer. How do you think these two solutions will interact when frozen?


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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