Outreach: magic sand
Type of Activity
Magic sand is magic because when it is in water it stays dry. Observe and learn about the usefulness of this hydrophobic subtance.
Magic sand (moon sand or aqua sand) is readily available from supermarkets or online retailers.
These resources were created for the Cambridge science festival 2014.
If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:
Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:
- Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.
- Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated, based on their data and observations.
- Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.
- Compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties.
Children will learn:
- That the properties of different materials determine how suitable they are for different purposes.
Suggested activity use
This activity could be used in a number of ways, depending on the ease of access to ‘magic sand’. You could use the activity with small focus groups to stimulate discussion and questioning between children. It could be used as a demonstration to get children thinking about any real-life applications of the sand. Alternatively, children could work in groups to test the sand and ask questions about what they are observing.
Children may need an explanation about what the term ‘hydrophobic’ means and how the sand works, before being able to suggest viable real-life applications.
Magic sand will need to be sourced prior to the activity. It would also be good to have samples of ordinary sand to compare it with.