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Capillary Action

Capillary action enables soil moisture to move in any direction within the soil as water moves from wet areas to drier areas. Capillary rise of water occurs especially in and regions where groundwater is drawn upward into the soil for plant use.

• Plastic cup
• Coffee filter
• Water soluble markers = black and/or colors
• Water
• Paper or paper towels


1. Draw a sold circle with the marker in the middle of a coffee filter.
2. Fold the coffee filter in half and then in half again and then in half again
3. Twist the center slightly.
4. Place a small amount of water in the plastic cup (about 1/4' to 1/2')
5. Place the twisted end of the coffee filter in the water.
6. Watch the water rise by capillary action through the coffee filter
7. When the water has stopped rising, carefully remove coffee filter
8. Carefully open coffee filter and spread out on paper to dry
9. What colors and designs appear on the coffee filter?

Printed with permission from Michal L. Le Vasseur, 2001

Adobe PDF download Capillary Action (Adobe PDF document)


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Canadian Geographic magazine is an excellent resource for teachers and students. It provides posters in both official languages, such as the St. Lawrence Seaway map, as well as short geography related news items suitable for current events. In addition, the June issue each year is devoted to environmental issues such as wind energy.”

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