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WO Bèta module

We did a research about density. During our physics lessons, we had learned that
the density of certain substances can change, depending on the temperature. We
wanted to find out if we could change the density enough to let a liquid float instead
of sink, or sink instead of float. For our research we chose to use pure water, and 2
different liquids that have almost the same density as water.

Research question
How does temperature affect the density of half and half milk and olive oil?

If we heat up half and half milk to 100°C it will float on water instead of sink, if we
cool olive oil down to 0°C it will sink instead of float.

Literature study
Liquid Temperature Density

Olive oil 15°C 0.918 g/cm​3

Pure water 15°C 0.9991026 g/cm​3

Half and half milk 15°C 1.0225 g/cm​3

Fig 1. In this table you see the density of olive oil, pure water and half and half milk at 15°C.

A fluid sinks when it’s density is higher than 1 g/cm³, and a fluid floats when it’s
density is lower than 1 g/cm³. As you can see in the table the olive oil will float and
the half and half milk will sink at 15°C.

List of materials
- Pure water 2L
- Half and half milk 1L
- Olive oil 1L
- Fridge
- Bunsen burner 1x
- Tripod 1x
- Gauze 1x
- Thermometer 3x
- Small beaker 1x
- Large beaker 4x
- Stirring rod 1x
On the second of October we went to the lab to do our research about density. We
collected all our materials and started with the experiment. The first part was to check if
olive oil floats on water. We added 50 ml of olive oil to 150 ml of pure water, both at
The second part of the experiment was, to check if half and half milk sinks in water. We
did this with the same measurements as the olive oil and pure water, we added 50 ml
half and half milk at 22°C to 150 ml pure water at 22°C. To get the milk at this
temperature we needed to heat it up with the Bunsen burner. After we did that it
became too hot so we needed to cool it down with ice cubes. Because this failed, we
tried the experiment again with different measurements.
Instead of 50 ml half and half milk, we used 20 ml milk. We also had to heat the milk up
beforehand to get it at 22°C. We added the half and half milk to the 150 ml pure water,
but the results were the same. We thought that we might get a different result if we
would leave it for a while, and so we left it for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes there was
still no difference to be seen, so we gave up and continued with the next experiment.
The next experiments are to find out if we can let olive oil sink instead of float, and if we
can let milk float instead of it becoming a mixture. For the experiment with the olive oil
we used 150 ml pure water at 22°C and we used 50 ml of olive oil. We cooled the olive
oil down to 0°C by putting it in the fridge. It was cooled down enough when we took the
olive oil out of the fridge, but when we brought it to our table we measured the
temperature again the olive oil was warmed up again. So we had to cool it down with
ice cubes to get it to 0°C again. When it was cool enough, we added it to the water. We
then added the olive oil to the water and we noticed that the olive oil did still float, but it
needed more time to float on the water than when the olive oil was at 22°C.
For the experiment with the milk we used 150 ml pure water at 22°C and we tried to
warm the half and half milk up to 100°C. We didn’t succeed, at around 90°C the milk
overboiled. We thought this was very strange since we had looked up in our literature
study that the boiling point of milk is very close to that of water. We now think that the
reason that it overboiled was that we didn’t stir the milk while it was heating up. This
probably made the milk too hot in the centre, thus causing it to overload.
Since this didn’t work out, ​we tried to do it again with the same amount of water and
milk, but we were going to heat the milk up to 90°C instead of 100°C and we were
going to stir it while it while it’s warming up. This time the milk didn’t overload and it
even reached the temperature of 100°C because we stirred it well.We tried it again but
now with 150 ml pure water instead of 250 ml. Afterwards we tried it once more with
300 ml pure water at 7°C and with 100 ml half and half milk at 100°C.​T ​Our last
experiment was with the olive oil again and we used 150 ml pure water at 100°C and
80 ml olive oil at 5°C.
Olive oil floats on water when we had both at 22°C, and when the water was at a
temperature of 22°C and the olive oil at a temperature of 0°C (it did take longer to
float). However, when we warmed water up to a temperature of 100°C, and when we
cooled down the olive oil to a temperature of 5°C, it did work partly.The olive oil sunk
to the bottom and stayed there for quite a long time before it would eventually float to
the surface again.
Half and half milk mixed with water when we had both at 22°C, and when there was
less milk and more water at a temperature of 22°C, it still mixed. When we warmed
the milk up to a temperature of 90°C, and we cooled the water down to a
temperature of 7°C, it still mixed.

When we look at our results, we can conclude that: olive oil can sink in water if there
is enough difference in temperature and half and half milk doesn’t sink or float in
water: it mixes. Therefore our hypothesis was wrong.

Many of our experiments went wrong. This was because of the literature study, but
also because of our approach. When the milk over boiled, it was because we didn’t
stir the milk. We could have thought of that beforehand. We also could have chosen
a different type of milk and oil. It could be that, for example, the milk mixed because
we used half and half milk instead of regular milk.