I had some clear water beads chilling in the fridge, and since we’re in the midst of a heat wave this Summer, I thought now might be a good time to let the kiddos play with them. Note — Water beads are designed for use in floral arrangements, and not as toys. They are non-toxic and environmentally safe, but be sure to explain to your kids that water beads should not be put their mouths or eaten. If your kids are old enough to know not to put water beads in their mouths, they might enjoy this too!
I emptied 2 small canisters of water beads into a clear 9″ x 13″ baking dish, then added several glow sticks too. The girls thought the refractive index of the water beads was almost magical!! When the light from a glow stick hit a water bead at a certain angle, the entire water bead would LIGHT up! They explored this concept for several hours!!
Another simple experiment to try with clear water beads is to remove the glow sticks, and submerge just the clear water beads in plain water. Since the water beads have almost the same refractive index as plain water, they are virtually invisible until they break the surface of the water. Like magic!
You can find clear water beads at dollar stores, Wal-marts, or craft stores — usually in the floral section. For more information on water beads, check out my friend Deborah’s post over at Teach Preschool. And for another simple experiment exploring the refractive properties of water, you can try making your own rainbow!