Science at home – ocean zones in a jar

Did you know that two thirds of the earth is ocean and that all life originated there? The ocean is an incredible place, filled with huge ecosystems and a plethora of different species – many of which haven’t even been discovered yet!

The evolution of many species has a lot to do with the environment in which they live. In the ocean there are different layers, called “zones,” which are home to all sorts of animals. Up at the top is the sunlight zone, where animals that need to come up to the surface to breath tend to live. Whales, dolphins and turtles all live there happily. The twilight zone is home to crabs and other crustaceans, dragonfish, fangtooth, gulper eel and mid-water jellyfish. They need much less sun and gather oxygen in other ways so they don’t have to live near the surface. And then there is the midnight zone, where the really crazy looking creatures live! The anemones, anglerfish, arrow worm, cookie-cutter shark and vampire squid have all evolved to live in the dark, cold depths of the sea.

There are more ocean zones to learn about too, but for the younger children it’s easier to stick to those three.

How to make your own ocean zones in a jar:

What you will need:

•    A mason jar (make sure it won’t leak!)

•    A funnel

•    Trench zone: Corn Syrup or molasses (tinted black)

•    Abyss zone: Blue dishwashing liquid

•    Midnight zone: Water (tinted blue)

•    Twilight zone:  Oil

•    Sunlight zone:  Rubbing Alcohol

1.  Add some black food colouring to 3/4 cup of corn syrup (or just plain molasses) and pour into the bottom of your glass jar.

2.  Then slowly add blue dishwashing liquid to the jar using the funnel.

3.  Put blue food colouring in 3/4 cup of water and use a funnel to slowly and carefully layer it on top of the soap.

4.  Next, add your oil. Be very careful with this step – although the layers will generally separate on their own, make sure you mix them as little as possible.

5.  Finally, you will add 3/4 cup of rubbing alcohol.  You’ll want to do this really slowly making sure not to break the barrier between the oil and water.

All five ocean zones are done! You can label them with cardboard, just like ours or leave them unlabelled.

We’ve popped a video up on our Science Alive YouTube channel to show you the instructions and results step-by-step.

science_alive_logoScience Alive is exclusively providing at-home science experiments to Family Times. For more info, visit www.ScienceAlive.co.nz.